Regucalcin, a calcium-binding protein with a role in male reproduction?
Senescence marker protein-30 (SMP30) is a calcium-binding protein that decreases in an androgen-independent manner with aging. To elucidate the physiological role of this protein, we introduced a null mutation of the SMP30 gene into the germ line of mice. Despite the complete lack of SMP30 (SMP30-/-), these mutant mice were indistinguishable from their wild-type (SMP30+/+) littermates in terms of development and fertilization capability. We then investigated the tissue susceptibility for apoptosis induced by cytokine using primary cultured hepatocytes, because SMP30 could rescue cells from cell death caused by calcium influx, using a calcium ionophore as previously described. SMP30-/- hepatocytes were found to be more susceptible to apoptosis induced by tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) plus actinomycin D (ActD) than SMP30+/+ hepatocytes. In addition, the TNF-alpha/ActD-induced caspase-8 activity in SMP30-/- hepatocytes was twofold greater than that in SMP30+/+ hepatocytes. In contrast, no significant difference was observed in the TNF-alpha/ActD-induced nuclear factor-kappa B activation of SMP30+/+ versus SMP30-/- hepatocytes, indicating that SMP30 is not related to TNF-alpha/ActD-induced nuclear factor-kappa B activation itself. Moreover, deletion of the SMP30 gene enhanced liver injury after treatment in vivo with anti-Fas antibody and the SMP30+/- mice showed intermediate susceptibility to Fas-induced apoptosis. Collectively, these results demonstrate that SMP30 acts to protect cells from apoptosis.