Annals of Hematology

, Volume 92, Issue 12, pp 1603–1609

Suppression of granzyme B activity and caspase-3 activation in leukaemia cells constitutively expressing the protease inhibitor 9


  • Kristina Fritsch
    • Dpt. of Hematology and OncologyAlbert Ludwigs-University Medical Center Freiburg
  • Jürgen Finke
    • Dpt. of Hematology and OncologyAlbert Ludwigs-University Medical Center Freiburg
    • Dpt. of Hematology and OncologyAlbert Ludwigs-University Medical Center Freiburg
    • National Center for Tumor Diseases, Dpt. of Medical OncologyHeidelberg University Medical Center
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00277-013-1846-6

Cite this article as:
Fritsch, K., Finke, J. & Grüllich, C. Ann Hematol (2013) 92: 1603. doi:10.1007/s00277-013-1846-6


Immune surveillance against malignant cells is mediated by cytotoxic T-lymphocytes and NK-cells (CTL/NK) that induce apoptosis through the granzyme-B-dependent pathway. The serine protease inhibitor serpinB9/protease inhibitor-9 (PI-9) is a known inhibitor of granzyme B. Ectopic expression of PI-9 in tumour cells has been reported. However, the impact of PI-9 on granzyme-B-induced apoptosis in tumour cells remains unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of constitutive PI-9 expression in leukaemia cell lines on the activity of granzyme B and apoptosis induction. PI-9 negative (lymphoblastic Jurkat cells; myeloblastic U937 cells) and PI-9-expressing cell lines (myeloblastic K562 cells, EBV-transformed LCL-1 and LCL-2 B-cells, lymphoblastic Daudi cells, AML-R cells f leukaemia and the U937 subclone U937PI-9+). For accurate granzyme B activity determination a quantitative substrate (Ac-IEPD-pNA) cleavage assay was established and caspase-3 activation measured for apoptosis assessment. Cells were treated with a cytotoxic granule isolate that has previously been shown to induce apoptosis through granzyme B signalling. We found a robust correlation between constitutive PI-9 expression levels and the suppression of granzyme B activity. Further, inhibition of granzyme B translated into reduced caspase-3 activation. We conclude, suppression of granzyme B initiated apoptosis in PI-9-expressing cells could contribute to immune evasion and the measurement of granzyme B activity with our assay might be a useful predictive marker in immune-therapeutic approaches against cancer.


LeukaemiaGranzyme BApoptosisSerpin

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013