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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991 Jul 1;88(13):5857-61.

Induction of apoptosis during normal and neoplastic B-cell development in the bursa of Fabricius.

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  • 1Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle 98104.


The lymphoid cells of embryonic bursal follicles are engaged in rapid growth and preimmune diversification of immunoglobulin genes. Disruption of follicular architecture by mechanical dispersion of these cells in short-term tissue culture was accompanied by continued cell division and extensive cell death by apoptosis. Apoptosis was suppressed in parallel cultures of intact follicles. gamma Radiation also triggered extensive apoptosis in embryonic bursal follicles within a few hours. Preneoplastic bursal stem cell populations induced by a v-myc oncogene were hypersensitive to induction of apoptosis by follicular dispersion and radiation. In contrast, tumor progression in v-myc- and v-rel-initiated bursal neoplasms was accompanied by development of resistance to induction of apoptosis. A programmed cell death pathway can be activated during normal B-cell development in the bursa, and alterations in the expression of this pathway accompany neoplastic change in this system.

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