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First Advisor

Vivek . M. Rangnekar


Par-4 is a leucine zipper domain protein that induces apoptosis on its own in certain cancer cells and in Ras-transformed cells, but not in normal or immortalized cells. Par-4 induces apoptosis by activation of the Fas death receptor pathway and co-parallel inhibition of NF-B transcription activity. Cells that are resistant to apoptosis by Par-4 alone, however, are greatly sensitized by Par-4 to the action of other pro-apoptotic insults such as growth factor withdrawal, TNF, ionizing radiation, intracellular calcium elevation, or those involved in neuronal degeneration such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's and Stroke. Previous studies have suggested that the apoptosis-sensitization potential of Par-4 is dependent upon inhibition of PKC or WT1 cell survival function by direct interaction between the leucine zipper domain at the carboxy-terminus of Par-4 and the zinc finger domains of PKC or WT1. In this study, I performed structure-function analysis using GFP-fusion proteins and deletion mutants to identify the functional localization and domains of Par-4 that are essential for apoptosis induction. My findings suggest that apoptosis by Par-4 is dependent on its translocation to the nucleus for induction of apoptosis. A bipartite nuclear localization signal sequence corresponding to amino acids 137-155 was necessary for nuclear translocation of Par-4. Importantly, the core residues 137-204 in the center part of Par-4 were necessary and sufficient to induce Fas pathway activation, inhibition of nuclear NF-B transcription activity and apoptosis. These findings imply that binding of Par-4 via its leucine zipper domain to other proteins is dispensable for apoptosis by Par-4.