Treatment of the human promonocytic cell line U937 with all-trans- retinoic acid (RA) commits these cells to apoptosis, which can be triggered by simply increasing intracellular calcium levels by the ionophore A23187. RA treatment of U937 cells is characterized by a decrease in Bcl-2 and marked induction of 'tissue' transglutaminase (tTG) gene expression. In this study, we show that the inhibition of tTG expression in U937 cells undergoing apoptosis prevents their death. In fact, U937 cell-derived clones transfected with the human tTG gene in the antisense orientation showed a pronounced decrease in apoptosis induced by several stimuli. These findings demonstrate that the Ca2+-dependent irreversible cross-linking of intracellular proteins catalyzed by tTG represents an important biochemical event in the gene-regulated cell death in monoblasts. In addition, our data indicate that the apoptotic program in promonocytic cells is strictly regulated by RA and that a key role is played by the free intracellular calcium concentration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas