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Curr Biol. 2000 Oct 5;10(19):1201-4.

Expression of the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family member Bim is regulated by the forkhead transcription factor FKHR-L1.

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Department of Pulmonary Diseases, University Medical Center Utrecht, G03.550, Heidelberglaan 100, 3584 CX Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Cell death is regulated mainly through an evolutionarily conserved form of cell suicide termed apoptosis [1]. Deregulation of apoptosis has been associated with cancer, autoimmune diseases and degenerative disorders. Many cells, particularly those of the hematopoietic system, have a default program of cell death and survival that is dependent on the constant supply of survival signals. The Bcl-2 family, which has both pro- and anti-apoptotic members, plays a critical role in regulating cell survival [2]. One family member, the Bcl-2 interacting mediator of cell death (Bim), contains only a protein-interaction motif known as the BH3 domain, allowing it to bind pro-survival Bcl-2 molecules, neutralizing their function [3]. Disruption of the bim gene results in resistance to apoptosis following cytokine withdrawal in leukocytes, indicating that regulation of the pro-apoptotic activity of Bim is critical for maintenance of the default apoptotic program [4]. Here, we report that withdrawal of cytokine results in upregulation of Bim expression concomitant with induction of the apoptotic program in lymphocytes. Activation of the forkhead transcription factor FKHR-L1, previously implicated in regulation of apoptosis in T lymphocytes [5], was sufficient to induce Bim expression. We propose a mechanism by which cytokines promote lymphocyte survival by inhibition of FKHR-L1, preventing Bim expression.

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