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Oncogene. 1999 Feb 18;18(7):1457-64.

Bcl-2 overexpression results in reciprocal downregulation of Bcl-X(L) and sensitizes human testicular germ cell tumours to chemotherapy-induced apoptosis.

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CRC Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology Research Group, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Manchester, UK.


Testicular germ cell tumours are hypersentive to chemotherapy and cell lines derived from these tumours are chemosensitive in vitro. We have previously shown that these cell lines express undetectable levels of the suppressor of apoptosis Bcl-2 and relatively high levels of the apoptosis inducer Bax (Chresta et al., 1996). To determine whether the absence of Bcl-2 in these cell lines makes them highly susceptible to drug-induced apoptosis, Bcl-2 was expressed ectopically in the 833K testicular germ cell tumour cell line. Stable overexpressing clones were isolated and three clones were studied further. Surprisingly, Bcl-2 overexpressing cells were sensitized to chemotherapy-induced apoptosis compared to the parental and vector control cells. Analysis of potential mechanisms of sensitization revealed there was a reciprocal downregulation of the endogenously expressed Bcl-X(L) in the Bcl-2 overexpressing clones. Downregulation of Bcl-X(L) to the same extent using antisense oligonucleotides enhanced etoposide-induced apoptosis by twofold. Our results indicate that Bcl-2 and Bcl-X(L) have different abilities to protect against chemotherapy-induced apoptosis in testicular germ cell tumours. In contrast to findings in some tumour cell types, Bcl-2 did not act as a gatekeeper to prevent entry of p53 to the nucleus.

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