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Cancer Res. 1993 Oct 15;53(20):4978-86.

Regulation of Bcl-2 oncoprotein levels with differentiation of human neuroblastoma cells.

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  • 1La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation, Cancer Research Center, California 92037.


When established in culture, human neuroblastoma cell lines typically are comprised of heterogeneous cellular subpopulations, including neuroblastic (N-type), substrate-adherent (S-type), and intermediate (I-type) cells that can be distinguished by their characteristic morphologies and expression of differentiation-associated antigens. Here we examined the relative levels of the Bcl-2 oncoprotein in 15 clones derived from four different neuroblastoma cell lines. Among six clones isolated from the SK-N-SH line, levels of p26-Bcl-2 correlated with morphology and differentiation markers with the hierarchy of bcl-2 expression being: N-type cells > N/I-type > I-type > S-type. Furthermore, stimulation of one of the N-type clones, SH-SY5Y, with the phorbol ester, 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate, induced differentiation toward a more neuronal-like phenotype and resulted in a 5- to 10-fold elevation in the relative levels of Bcl-2 protein. High relative amounts of p26-Bcl-2 protein were also found in an N-type clone derived from the SMS-KCN line. In two N-type clones derived from the LA-N-1 line, however, levels of Bcl-2 protein were only moderately elevated, and in one N-type clone from the SK-N-BE(2) line the levels of Bcl-2 protein were low. Thus, high relative levels of Bcl-2 oncoprotein are not a universal feature of N-type cells (three of six clones tested). In contrast, all 5 of the S-type clones evaluated contained relatively low levels of Bcl-2 protein, suggesting that these cells (which may represent embryonic precursors of Schwann, glial, and melanocytic cells) do not typically express the bcl-2 gene at high levels. Consistent with this inverse correlation between Bcl-2 protein levels and S-type characteristics, stimulation of an I-type clone derived from the SK-N-BE(2) line with 5-bromodeoxyuridine was accompanied by an accumulation of S-type cells in these cultures, decreased Bcl-2 protein, diminutions in the neuronal markers neurofilament-M and neuron-specific enolase, and an increase in the relative levels of the S-type marker proteins vimentin and beta-2-microglobulin. Conversely, stimulation of this I-type clone with retinoic acid resulted in an accumulation of N-type cells (which are thought to represent embryonic precursors of sympathetic neurons), decreased vimentin and beta-2-microglobulin, increased neurofilament-M, and a marked elevation in p26-Bcl-2.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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