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Clin Cancer Res. 2000 Apr;6(4):1579-89.

Caspase activation and changes in Bcl-2 family member protein expression associated with E2F-1-mediated apoptosis in human esophageal cancer cells.

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Department of Surgery, University of Louisville, James Graham Brown Cancer Center, Kentucky 40202, USA.


The prognosis for patients with esophageal cancer remains poor, prompting the search for new treatment strategies. Overexpression of E2F-1 has been shown to induce apoptosis in several cancer cell types. In the present study, the effect of adenovirus-mediated E2F-1 overexpression on human esophageal cancer cell lines Yes-4 and Yes-6 was evaluated. Cells were treated by mock infection, infection with an adenoviral vector expressing beta-galactosidase (Ad5CMV-LacZ), or E2F-1 (Ad5CMVE2F-1). Western blot analysis confirmed marked overexpression of E2F-1 in Ad5CMVE2F-1-infected cells. Overexpression of E2F-1 resulted in marked growth inhibition and rapid loss of cell viability due to apoptosis, although Yes-6 cells were somewhat more resistant to E2F-1-mediated growth inhibition than Yes-4 cells. Cell cycle analysis revealed that overexpression of E2F-1 led to G2 arrest, followed by apoptotic cell death. p53 expression remained undetectable in both cell lines after E2F-1 overexpression. The apoptosis inhibitor proteins of the Bcl-2 gene family, Bcl-2, Mcl-1, and BcI-XL, decreased at 48 h after infection in Yes-4 cells, but remained unchanged in Yes-6 cells. Levels of retinoblastoma gene product (pRb) declined at 48 h after E2F-1 infection in Yes-4 cells, at which apoptosis predominated, whereas pRb expression remained constant in Yes-6 cells. Expression of p14ARF did not change after E2F-1 infection in either cell line. Involvement of caspase 3 and caspase 6 in E2F-1-mediated apoptosis was demonstrated by cleavage of caspase 3/CPP32 and poly-ADP-ribose polymerase, as well as fragmentation of the caspase 6 substrate, lamin B. These results indicate that the sensitivity of esophageal cancer cells to E2F-1-mediated apoptosis may be related to differential expression of Bcl-2 family member proteins and suggest that the adenovirus-mediated E2F-1 gene therapy may be a promising treatment strategy for the treatment of this disease.

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