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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Sep 25;98(20):11318-23.

Expression of bbc3, a pro-apoptotic BH3-only gene, is regulated by diverse cell death and survival signals.

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ImmunoGen, Inc., 128 Sidney Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


BH3-only proteins function at a proximal point in a conserved cell death pathway by binding, through their BH3 domains, to other Bcl-2 family members and triggering mitochondrial events associated with apoptosis. Here, we describe a strongly pro-apoptotic BH3-only protein, designated Bbc3, whose expression increases in response to diverse apoptotic stimuli. bbc3 mRNA levels were induced by exposure to DNA-damaging agents and by wild-type p53, which mediates DNA damage-induced apoptosis. p53 transactivated bbc3 through consensus p53 binding sites within the bbc3 promoter region, indicating that bbc3 is a direct target of p53. Additionally, bbc3 mRNA was induced by p53-independent apoptotic stimuli, including dexamethasone treatment of thymocytes, and serum deprivation of tumor cells. Insulin-like growth factor-1 and epidermal growth factor, growth factors with broad anti-apoptotic activity, were each sufficient to suppress Bbc3 expression in serum-starved tumor cells. These results suggest that the transcriptional regulation of bbc3 contributes to the transduction of diverse cell death and survival signals.

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