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Hum Gene Ther. 1999 Mar 1;10(4):679-88.

Increased bax expression is associated with cell death induced by ganciclovir in a herpes thymidine kinase gene-expressing glioma cell line.

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  • 1INSERM U318, Neurobiologie Préclinique, Grenoble, France.


The herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase gene (HSV-tk) was stably transfected into rat C6 glioma cells (C6tk) in order to characterize the mechanisms underlying cell toxicity induced in vitro by the guanosine analog ganciclovir (GCV). The results demonstrate the efficiency of the HSV-tk/GCV system in ablating most of the tumoral cells within 7 to 8 days of treatment with 20 mivroM GCV; however, a few cells still survive. C6tk cells arrest in the S phase of the cell cycle after 2 days of drug treatment before undergoing cell death. Microscopic analysis reveals dying cells with ultrastructural characteristics consistent with apoptosis; we cannot rule out, however, that necrotic cell death may also be occurring. The cytotoxicity induced by GCV is not associated with changes in the expression of p53 protein, suggesting that cell cycle arrest and cell death may occur through a p53-independent pathway. C6tk cells constitutively express Bcl-xL and Bax proteins; when exposed to GCV, Bcl-xL levels do not change but Bax accumulation is rapidly induced. These findings suggest that the balance between Bcl-xL and Bax proteins may be of importance in determining the sensitivity of tumoral cells to GCV.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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