Dopamine-induced programmed cell death is associated with cytochrome c release and caspase-3 activation in snail salivary gland cells

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Background information. PCD (programmed cell death) is a common mechanism to remove unwanted and excessive cells from organisms. In several exocrine cell types, PCD mode of release of secretory products has been reported. The molecular mechanism of the release, however, is largely unknown. Our aim was to study the molecular mechanism of saliva release from cystic cells, the specific cell type of snail SGs (salivary glands). Results. SG cells in active feeding animals revealed multiple morphological changes characteristic of PCD. Nerve stimulation and DA (dopamine) increased the number of TUNEL (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labelling)-positive cells both in inactive and feeding animals. The DA-induced PCD was prevented by TEA (tetraethylammonium chloride) and eticlopride, emphasizing the role of K channels and D2 receptors in the PCD of cystic cells. DA enhanced cyto-c (cytochrome c) translocation into the cytosol and methyl-β-cyclodextrin prevented it, suggesting apoptosome formation and ceramide involvement in the PCD linking of the surface DA receptor to mitochondria. Western blot analysis revealed that the release of cyto-c was under the control of Bcl-2 and Bad. DA also increased the active caspase-3 in gland cells while D2 receptor antagonists and TEA attenuated it. Conclusion. Our results provide evidence for a type of transmitter-mediated pathway that regulates the PCD of secretory cells in a mitochondrial-caspase-dependent manner. The activation of specific molecules, such as K channels, DA receptors, cyto-c, ceramide, Bcl-2 proteins and caspase-3, but not caspase-8, was demonstrated in cells involved in the DA-induced PCD, suggesting that PCID is a physiological method for the release of saliva from SG cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-116
Number of pages12
JournalBiology of the Cell
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 25 2009



  • Bcl-2 proteins
  • Caspase-3
  • Cytochrome C
  • Dopamine
  • Mucus secretion
  • Programmed cell death
  • Snail

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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