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J Cell Physiol. 2007 Mar;210(3):616-25.

Bcl-2 expression modulates cell adhesion and migration promoting branching of ureteric bud cells.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.


Bcl-2 is the founding member of a family of proteins that influence apoptosis. During kidney development bcl-2 not only acts as a survival factor, but may also impact cell adhesive mechanisms and by extension branching morphogenesis. The interrelationship between cell adhesion, migration and apoptosis, important during development, is poorly understood. Here we examined the impact lack of bcl-2, an inhibitor of apoptosis, has on ureteric bud (UB) cell adhesion, migration, and branching morphogenesis. Bcl-2 -/- UB cells demonstrated increased cell migration, increased cell invasion and decreased adhesion to vitronectin and fibronectin compared with wild-type cells. Bcl-2 +/+ UB cells readily branched in collagen gel and Matrigel while bcl-2 -/- UB cells did not undergo significant branching in either matrix. Re-expression of bcl-2 in bcl-2 -/- UB cells restored their ability to undergo branching morphogenesis in Matrigel. Consistent with our in vitro data, we show that in the absence of bcl-2, embryonic kidneys undergo decreased UB branching. We observed decreased numbers of UB branch points, UB branch tips and a decreased distance to the first UB branch point in the absence of bcl-2. The alterations in bcl-2 -/- UB cell adhesion and migration was also associated with a significant alteration in expression of a number of extracellular matrix proteins. Bcl-2 -/- UB cells exhibited increased fibronectin expression and decreased thrombospondin-1 and osteopontin expression. Taken together, these data suggest that bcl-2 is required for the proper regulation of cell adhesive and migratory mechanisms, perhaps through modulation of the cellular microenvironment.

Copyright 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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