We report two synthetic aminopyrrolic compounds that induce apoptotic cell death. These compounds have been previously shown to act as receptors for mannosides. The extent of receptor-induced cell death is greater in cells expressing a high level of high-mannose oligosaccharides than in cells producing lower levels of high-mannose glycans. The ability of synthetic receptors to induce cell death is attenuated in the presence of external mannosides. The present results provide support for the suggestion that the observed cell death reflects an ability of the receptors to bind mannose displayed on the cell surface. Signaling pathway studies indicate that the synthetic receptors of the present study promote JNK activation, induce Bax translocation to the mitochondria, and cause cytochrome c release from the mitochondria into the cytosol, thus promoting caspase-dependent apoptosis. Such effects are also observed in cells treated with mannose-binding ConA. The present results thus serve to highlight what may be an attractive new approach to triggering apoptosis via modes of action that differ from those normally used to promote apoptosis.
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