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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Dec 21;96(26):14943-8.

Constitutive Bcl-2 expression throughout the hematopoietic compartment affects multiple lineages and enhances progenitor cell survival.

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  • 1The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Post Office, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Victoria 3050, Australia.


Bcl-2, which can both reduce apoptosis and retard cell cycle entry, is thought to have important roles in hematopoiesis. To evaluate the impact of its ubiquitous overexpression within this system, we targeted expression of the human bcl-2 gene in mice by using the promoter of the vav gene, which is active throughout this compartment but rarely outside it. The vav-bcl-2 transgene was expressed in essentially all nucleated cells of hematopoietic tissues but not notably in nonhematopoietic tissues. Presumably because of enhanced cell survival, the mice displayed increases in myeloid cells as well as a marked elevation in B and T lymphocytes. The spleen was enlarged and the lymphoid follicles expanded. Although total thymic cellularity was normal, T cell development was altered: cells at the very immature and most mature stages were increased, whereas those at the intermediate stage were decreased. Unexpectedly, blood platelets were reduced by half, suggesting that their production from megakaryocytes is regulated by the Bcl-2 family. Colony formation by myeloid progenitor cells in vitro remained cytokine dependent, and the frequency of most progenitor and preprogenitor cells was normal. Macrophage progenitors were less frequent and yielded smaller colonies, however, perhaps reflecting inhibitory effects of Bcl-2 on cell cycling in specific lineages. After irradiation or factor deprivation, Bcl-2 markedly enhanced clonogenic survival of all tested progenitor and preprogenitor cells. Thus, Bcl-2 has multiple effects on the hematopoietic system. These mice should help to further clarify the role of apoptosis in the development and homeostasis of this compartment.

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