When COS7 fibroblasts and other cells were exposed to UVC irradiation and cold shock at 4°C for 5 min, rapid upregulation and nuclear accumulation of NOS2, p53, WWOX, and TRAF2 occurred in 10-30 min. By time-lapse microscopy, an enlarging gas bubble containing nitric oxide (NO) was formed in the nucleus in each cell that finally popped out to cause "bubbling death". Bubbling occurred effectively at 4 and 22°C, whereas DNA fragmentation was markedly blocked at 4°C. When temperature was increased to 37°C, bubbling was retarded and DNA fragmentation occurred in 1 hr, suggesting that bubbling death is switched to apoptosis with increasing temperatures. Bubbling occurred prior to nuclear uptake of propidium iodide and DAPI stains. Arginine analog Nω-LAME inhibited NO synthase NOS2 and significantly suppressed the bubbling death. Unlike apoptosis, there were no caspase activation and flip-over of membrane phosphatidylserine (PS) during bubbling death. Bubbling death was significantly retarded in Wwox knockout MEF cells, as well as in cells overexpressing TRAF2 and dominant-negative p53. Together, UV/cold shock induces bubbling death at 4°C and the event is switched to apoptosis at 37°C. Presumably, proapoptotic WWOX and p53 block the protective TRAF2 to execute the bubbling death.
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