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Ming Zhang, Jason Covar, Brendan Marshall, Zheng Dong, Sally S. Atherton; Lack of TNF-α Promotes Caspase-3–Independent Apoptosis during Murine Cytomegalovirus Retinitis. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(3):1800-1808. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.10-6904.
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Both caspase-dependent and caspase-independent apoptosis contribute to retinal damage during murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) retinitis, and TNF-α is among the inducers of apoptosis. The aim of this study was to determine the contribution of TNF-α by studying virus replication and apoptosis in immunosuppressed (IS) TNF-α−/− mice.
IS TNF-α−/− mice or wild-type mice were inoculated with MCMV by the supraciliary route. Injected eyes were examined by plaque assay, electron microscopy, Western blot analysis (caspase-3, caspase-8, caspase-12, Bid, NF-κB, cFlip, XIAP), staining for MCMV early antigen, and TUNEL assay.
Although the titer of MCMV was similar in both groups, significantly more apoptotic cells were observed in the retinas of IS TNF-α−/− mice than in those of wild-type mice. The level of active caspase-3 was similar in both groups; however, more activated proteins for genes involved in the mitochondrial pathway (cleaved caspase-8, tBid) and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress (cleaved caspase-12) and, though less active, NF-κB subunits and antiapoptotic proteins (XIAP and cFlip) were detected in the TNF-α−/− eyes compared with wild-type mice.
Although TNF-α is an inducer of apoptosis, the results of this study suggest that TNF-α is also antiapoptotic by the following mechanism: TNF-α activation of NF-κB promotes the production of the antiapoptosis genes, c-flip or XIAP, which, in turn, inhibit the activation of caspase-8 and the mitochondrial pathway or the activation of caspase-12 and ER stress.
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