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NDV-induced apoptosis in absence of Bax; evidence of involvement of apoptotic proteins upstream of mitochondria

Aidin Molouki1 and Khatijah Yusoff12*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Biosciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM, Serdang, Selangor DE, Malaysia

2 Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM, Serdang, Selangor DE, Malaysia

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Virology Journal 2012, 9:179  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-179

Published: 30 August 2012



Recently it was shown that following infection of HeLa cells with Newcastle disease virus (NDV), the matrix (M) protein binds to Bax and subsequently the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis is activated. Moreover, there was very little alteration on mRNA and protein levels of Bax and Bcl-2 after infection with NDV.


In order to further investigate the role of members of the Bcl-2 family, Bax-knockout and wild-type HCT116 cells were infected with NDV strain AF2240. Although both cells underwent apoptosis through the activation of the intrinsic pathway and the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, the percentage of dead Bax-knockout cells was significantly lower than wt cells (more than 10% at 48 h post-infection). In a parallel experiment, the effect of NDV on HT29 cells, that are originally Bcl-2-free, was studied. Apoptosis in HT29 cells was associated with Bax redistribution from cytoplasm to mitochondria, similar to that of HeLa and wt HCT116 cells.


Although the presence of Bax during NDV-induced apoptosis contributes to a faster cell death, it was concluded that other apoptotic protein(s) upstream of mitochondria are also involved since cancer cells die whether in the presence or absence of Bax. Therefore, the classic Bax/Bcl-2 ratio may not be a major determinant in NDV-induced apoptosis.