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Carcinogenesis. 1998 Sep;19(9):1691-5.

Decreased levels of p26-Bcl-2, but not p30 phosphorylated Bcl-2, precede TGFbeta1-induced apoptosis in colorectal adenoma cells.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Microbiology, University of Bristol, School of Medical Sciences, University Walk, UK.


Bcl-2 expression is confined to the base of the colonic crypt, whereas transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta) is expressed in the upper crypt, as are the apoptotic death promoters, Bak and Bax. In colonic adenoma cells, TGFbeta induces a growth arrest. In some adenoma cell lines, this is accompanied by apoptosis and in others it is not. In this study, we used two human colonic adenoma cell lines: RG/C2, in which TGFbeta induces a G1 arrest without apoptosis, and BH/C1, in which TGFbeta induces both a G1 arrest and apoptosis. TGFbeta does not induce apoptosis in RG/C2 cells even if hydrocortisone and insulin are removed from the culture medium. In BH/C1 cells, TGFbeta induces apoptosis in the presence of insulin and hydrocortisone. Apoptosis induced by TGFbeta is preceded by a reduction in p26-Bcl-2 protein levels. There was no change in the levels of the p30 phosphorylated form of Bcl-2 or in levels of the proapoptotic proteins Bax or Bak. RG/C2 cells did not show decreased Bcl-2 levels in response to TGFbeta-induced growth inhibition. Therefore, TGFbeta regulates Bcl-2 expression in colonic adenoma cells which undergo apoptosis in response to TGFbeta, but not in those which are growth inhibited, but resistant to TGFbeta-induced apoptosis. TGFbeta may play an important role in the colonic epithelium, not only in the inhibition of cell proliferation, but also in the regulation of apoptosis.

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