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Cell Death Differ. 2000 May;7(5):439-46.

Different expression patterns of Bcl-2 family genes in breast cancer by estrogen receptor status with special reference to pro-apoptotic Bak gene.

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Hormone Associated Cancer Research Group, Saitama Cancer Center Research Institute, 818 Komuro, Ina-machi, Kita-adachi-gun, Saitama 362-0806, Japan.


Oncogenic and anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 is expressed much less in estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha) negative breast cancers, which show more malignant phenotypes, than ERalpha-positive, indicating that some other Bcl-2 family member(s) are involved in the apoptotic balance of the cancer cells. We first analyzed mRNA expression of pro-apoptotic Bak and Bax along with that of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL, using breast cancer specimens of 27 patients. Bak mRNA was expressed much less in ERalpha negative breast cancers, along with reduced expression of Bcl-2. Immunostaining of sections of 108 patients confirmed the observation. Next, stable transformants of MCF-7 cells with sense Bak expression vector showed fewer colonies in soft agar compared with the parental cells, while stable introduction of antisense Bak vector enhanced colony formation at lower estradiol concentrations. The reduction of Bak may play important roles in malignant development of breast cancer to acquire estrogen independency, counteracting the reduced Bcl-2.

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