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FASEB J. 2000 Apr;14(5):652-60.

Bcl-2 overexpression and hypoxia synergistically act to modulate vascular endothelial growth factor expression and in vivo angiogenesis in a breast carcinoma line.

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Experimental Chemotherapy Laboratory, Regina Elena Cancer Institute, Rome, Italy.


We have previously demonstrated that bcl-2 overexpression enhances the metastatic potential of the MCF7 ADR human breast cancer cell line resistant to adriamycin by inducing metastasis-associated properties. To further elucidate the relationship between bcl-2 expression and the metastatic potential of the MCF7 ADR line, we evaluated whether bcl-2 could be also involved in the modulation of the angiogenic phenotype. Four bcl-2-overexpressing clones, a control transfectant clone, and the MCF7 ADR parental line were used for in vitro and in vivo experiments. Bcl-2 overexpression enhanced the synthesis of the hypoxia-stimulated VEGF protein and mRNA. Northern blot analysis demonstrated an increased VEGF mRNA expression in bcl-2-overexpressing clones, and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction showed higher levels of the VEGF(121) and VEGF(165) mRNA isoforms, which are the most active in eliciting angiogenesis. When incorporated into matrigel, supernatants of bcl-2-transfected cells cultured under hypoxic conditions induced an increased angiogenic response in C57BL/6 mice compared with that of control clone. Tumors from bcl-2 transfectants demonstrated increased VEGF expression and neovascularization as compared to the parental line, whereas the apoptosis in in vivo xenografts was similar in control and bcl-2 transfectants. The effect of bcl-2 on angiogenesis was not mediated by p53 protein. These results demonstrate that bcl-2 and hypoxia can act synergistically to modulate VEGF expression and the in vivo angiogenic response in the MCF7 ADR line.

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