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J Immunol. 2001 May 15;166(10):6025-33.

Involvement of Bik, a proapoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family, in surface IgM-mediated B cell apoptosis.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Apoptosis plays a central role in shaping the repertoire of circulating mature B lymphocytes, but the underlying molecular mechanisms regulating B cell fate are not well understood. Human B104 B lymphoma cells undergo apoptosis after surface Ig (sIg)M, but not sIgD, ligation; sIgM-mediated apoptosis of B104 cells apparently requires new gene transcription because actinomycin D can inhibit the apoptotic response. Here we report that expression of Bik, a proapoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family, is greatly increased after sIgM ligation. Bik expression was tightly controlled at both transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. Whereas a calcineurin-dependent pathway was essential for Bik mRNA induction, both the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)- and the calcineurin-dependent pathways were required for the sustained production of Bik protein. Consistent with these findings, sIgD ligation, which leads to the similar calcium mobilization and increases in Bik mRNA, induced only a transient activation of PI3K and did not lead to sustained Bik protein expression. Furthermore, sustained Bik protein expression correlated with B cell apoptosis, as treatment with either a calcineurin inhibitor or PI3K inhibitors blocked both sIgM-mediated sustained Bik protein induction and apoptosis. In addition, sIgM ligation strongly increased the amount of Bik associated with endogenous Bcl-x, but sIgD ligation did not. Studies with caspase inhibitors also revealed that Bik and Bcl-x interacted upstream of caspases in the B cell apoptosis cascade. Thus, Bik protein induction and, subsequently, sequestering of antiapoptotic Bcl-x by Bik may play an important role in regulating B cell apoptosis.

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