A novel human inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) family member termed Livin was identified, containing a single baculoviral IAP repeat (BIR) domain and a COOH-terminal RING finger domain. The mRNA for livin was not detectable by Northern blot in most normal adult tissues with the exception of the placenta, but was present in developmental tissues and in several cancer cell lines. Highest levels were observed in two melanoma-derived cell lines, G361 and SK-Mel29. Transfection of livin in HeLa cells resulted in protection from apoptosis induced by expression of FADD, Bax, RIP, RIP3, and DR6. Similar to other IAP family members, the anti-apoptotic activity of Livin was dependent on the BIR domain. Livin was also capable of inhibiting DEVD-like caspase activity triggered by tumor necrosis factor-alpha. In vitro binding studies demonstrated a direct interaction between Livin and the active form of the downstream caspases, caspase-3 and -7, that was dependent on the BIR domain of Livin. In addition, the unprocessed and cleaved forms of caspase-9 co-immunoprecipitated with Livin in vivo, and recombinant Livin could inhibit the activation of caspase-9 induced by Apaf-1, cytochrome c, and dATP. The subcellular distribution of the transfected Livin was analyzed by immunofluorescence. Both Livin and Survivin were expressed in the nucleus and in a filamentous pattern throughout the cytoplasm. In contrast to the apoptotic activity, the COOH-terminal RING domain mediated its subcellular localization patterning. Further studies found that transfection of an antisense construct against livin could trigger apoptosis specifically in cell lines expressing livin mRNA. This was associated with an increase in DNA fragmentation and in DEVD-like caspase activity. Thus, disruption of Livin may provide a strategy to induce apoptosis in certain cancer cells.
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