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Mol Vis. 2013;19:561-74. Epub 2013 Mar 15.

Role of B lymphoma Mo-MLV insertion region 1 in the oncogenic behavior of retinoblastomas.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.



This study investigated the relationship between B lymphoma Mo-MLV insertion region 1 (BMI-1)--a polycomb protein for stem cell self-renewal and proliferation--and the clinicopathological parameters of human retinoblastomas, including differentiation status and retinal tissue invasion, as well as the effects of BMI-1 on retinoblastoma Y79 cells.


Thirty-four archived human retinoblastoma samples were recruited for BMI-1 immunohistochemistry. The percentage of BMI-1-expressing cells was scored by independent pathologists and the data were correlated with the clinical features. Y79 cells were transfected to overexpress or specifically inhibit BMI-1 for cell proliferation, propidium iodide cell cycle and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) apoptosis analyses, multicellular sphere formation assay, and gene expression study.


BMI-1 was widely expressed in human retinoblastomas. Higher percentages of BMI-1-expressing cells were selectively limited to undifferentiated tumors and those tumors undergoing invasion to the optic nerve and choroid. However, there was no difference in BMI-1 expression in retinoblastoma retinas with or without tumor invasion. In Y79 cells, BMI-1 stimulated cell proliferation and suppressed apoptosis with reduced p14ARF and p16INK4 expression, along with upregulation of proliferating cell nuclear antigens cyclin D1 and D2. In contrast, silencing BMI-1 reversed these changes. It also upregulated CHX10 and Rx, but not other retinal development-related genes, including nestin and neurofilament M.


Our work indicates that BMI-1 might render important oncogenic property of retinoblastomas and it could be a therapeutic target for the cancer treatment.

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