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EMBO J. 1999 May 17;18(10):2692-701.

Haploid loss of bax leads to accelerated mammary tumor development in C3(1)/SV40-TAg transgenic mice: reduction in protective apoptotic response at the preneoplastic stage.

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Laboratory of Cell Regulation and Carcinogenesis, Division of Basic Sciences, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The dramatic increase in apoptosis observed during the development of preneoplastic mammary lesions is associated with a significant elevation in Bax expression in C3(1)/SV40 large T antigen (TAg) transgenic mice. The significance of Bax expression during tumor progression in vivo was studied by generating double-transgenic mice carrying the C3(1)/TAg transgene and mutant alleles for bax. C3(1)/TAg transgenic mice carrying mutant bax alleles exhibited accelerated rates of tumor growth, increased tumor numbers, larger tumor mass and decreased survival rates compared with mice carrying wild-type bax. Accelerated tumorigenesis associated with the bax+/- genotype did not require the loss of function of the second bax allele. Thus, haploid insufficiency of bax is enough to accelerate tumor progression, suggesting that the protective effect of Bax is dose-dependent. While levels of apoptosis in the preneoplastic lesions, but not carcinomas, were reduced in bax+/- or bax-/- mice compared with bax+/+ mice, rates of cellular proliferation in mammary lesions were similar among all bax genotypes. These data demonstrate that bax is a critical suppressor of mammary tumor progression at the stage of preneoplastic mammary lesion development through the upregulation of apoptosis, but that this protective effect is lost during the transition from preneoplasia to invasive carcinoma.

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