Valinomycin-induced apoptosis in Chinese hamster ovary cells

Rany Abdalah, Ling Wei, Kevin Francis, Shan Ping Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Accumulating evidence endorses that excessive K+ efflux is an ionic mechanism underlying apoptosis both in neuronal and non-neuronal cells. K+ channels play important roles in mediating the pro-apoptotic K+ efflux. Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells have been widely used for gene transfection experiments. These cells lack detectable endogenous voltage-gated K+ channels. We were interested in knowing whether the absence of endogenous K+ channels would render wild-type CHO cells more resistant to apoptotic death. We also wished to determine if direct stimulation of K+ efflux would trigger apoptosis in these cells. Exposing CHO cells to hypoxia (1% O2) or to a typical apoptotic insult of serum deprivation for up to 24 h did not affect cell survival. On the other hand, the K+ ionophore valinomycin caused substantial cell death within 12 h of its application. Valinomycin-treated CHO cells underwent several apoptotic events, including phosphatidylserine (PS) membrane translocation, caspase-3 activation, and mitochondrial membrane depolarization during the first few hours of exposure. Reducing K+ efflux by elevating extracellular K+ concentrations noticeably attenuated valinomycin-induced cell death. This study reinforces a K+ efflux-mediated apoptotic mechanism in CHO cells and may help to explain the unique feature of their higher tolerance to apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-73
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 11 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • CHO cells
  • K efflux
  • Valinomycin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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