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Myc-mediated Apoptosis Is Blocked By Ectopic Expression Of Bcl-2.

A. Wagner, M. B. Small, N. Hay
Published 1993 · Biology, Medicine, Chemistry

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The product of the c-myc proto-oncogene is an important positive regulator of cell growth and proliferation. Recently, c-Myc has also been demonstrated to be a potent inducer of apoptosis when expressed in the absence of serum or growth factors. To further examine Myc-induced apoptosis, we coexpressed the proto-oncogene bcl2, which has been shown to block apoptosis in other systems, with c-myc in serum-deprived Rat 1a fibroblasts. Here we report that ectopic expression of bcl2 specifically blocks apoptosis induced by constitutive c-myc expression. Constitutive c-myc expression in serum-deprived Rat 1a cells caused a > 15-fold increase in the number of dead cells, accompanied by DNA fragmentation. However, coexpression of bcl2 with c-myc in these cells led to a 10-fold increase in the number of live cells and a significant decrease in DNA fragmentation. Thus, Bcl-2 effectively inhibits Myc-induced apoptosis in serum-deprived Rat 1a fibroblasts without blocking entry into the cell cycle. These results imply that apoptosis serves as a protective mechanism to prevent tumorigenicity elicited by deregulated Myc expression. This protective mechanism is abrogated, however, by Bcl-2 and therefore may explain the synergism between Myc and Bcl-2 observed in certain tumor cells.
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