ST13, a co-factor of heat shock protein, has shown potential antitumor efficacy for colorectal cancer in our previous study. However, the molecular mechanisms governing ST13-induced apoptosis are poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that Ad-ST13 (ST13 mediated by adenovirus) activates apoptosis signal-regulated kinase (ASK1) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) but not p38 (mitogen-activated protein kinase) in human colorectal HCT116 cells. Ad-ST13 also increases extracellular-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation levels, but the change is due to adenovirus replication. Overexpression of ST13 also increases the transcription activity of AP-1. Blocking ASK1–JNK pathway affects Ad-ST13-mediated colorectal cell apoptosis, decreases the release of cytochrome c in cytoplasm and caspase activation. Because ASK1 is known to contain a tetratricopeptide repeat (TPR)-acceptor site and ST13 has TPR domain, we found the interaction between ST13 and ASK1. These results strongly indicate Ad-ST13 triggers colorectal cell apoptosis via ASK1–JNK signaling cascade. J. Cell. Biochem. 110: 581–588, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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