ASB3 knockdown promotes mitochondrial apoptosis via activating the interdependent cleavage of Beclin1 and caspase-8 in hepatocellular carcinoma

  • Wenli Zhang
  • Fuchen Liu
  • Zhihui Che
  • Mengmeng Wu
  • Zihui Tang
  • Jie LiuEmail author
  • Dongqin YangEmail author
Research Paper


Apoptosis and autophagy are distinct cellular processes that can be highly interconnected. The cross talk between the two processes is indispensable in determining the overall cell fate. Although the apoptosis-promoting effect of caspases has been demonstrated, the roles of autophagy-related proteins and even autophagy itself in regulating apoptosis remain poorly understood. In our present study, we found that downregulation of ubiquitin E3 ligase ASB3 led to enhanced mitochondrial apoptosis as well as autophagy, which synergistically promoted cell death in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We observed the activation of caspase-8 and decrease of autophagy protein Beclin1 in apoptotic cells that were depleted of ASB3. Beclin1 was mainly cleaved by activated caspase-8 and active Beclin1 initiated mitochondrial apoptosis via locating its C-terminal fragment to mitochondria. In addition, knocking down of Beclin1 markedly blocked the apoptosis, indicating its essential role in the process. Notably, our study indicated that enhanced autophagy level might be involved in the activation of caspase-8 and promote the apoptosis. Taken together, our results demonstrated that ASB3 can regulate mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis by controlling caspase-8 mediated cleavage of Beclin1 in HCC. Therefore, ASB3 may potentially serve as a novel target for HCC therapy, especially when combined with autophagy agonist.


ASB3 apoptosis Beclin1 caspase-8 autophagy liver cancer 


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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81372652, 81772529 and 81770579), and the Development Fund for Shanghai Talents (201660).

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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Digestive Diseases of Huashan HospitalFudan UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.The Third Department of Hepatic Surgery, Eastern Hepatobiliary Surgery HospitalSecond Military Medical UniversityShanghaiChina

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