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Immunol Lett. 2002 Apr 22;81(2):107-13.

The expression of Bcl-2 family proteins (Bcl-2, Bcl-x, Bax, Bak and Bim) in human lymphocytes.

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Department of Surgery II, Nagoya City University, Medical School, Kawasumi 1, Mizuho-ku, Nagoya 467-8601, Japan.


Bcl-2 family proteins regulate programmed cell death, and may play an important role in the selection of lymphocytes. We investigated the expression of Bcl-2, Bcl-x, Bax, Bak and Bim in human lymphocytes using flow-cytometry. Bcl-2 was down-regulated in CD4(+)8(+) (DP) thymocytes and CD19(+)38(+) tonsillar lymphocytes (GC B cells). Among DP thymocytes, cells co-expressing CD69 up-regulated Bcl-2, suggesting that the role of Bcl-2 is promoting survival of positively selected DP cells. Unexpectedly, the expression level of Bcl-x was higher in DP cells than in Single Positive (SP) cells and in CD69(+) DP thymocytes it was lower than in CD69(+) DP thymocytes. Expression of Bim was low in DP thymocytes but high in a subset of GC B cells. Bim and Bax were expressed more highly in SP than in DP thymocytes. Among peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL), CD8(+) T cells expressed an approximately ten-fold higher level of Bcl-x than CD4(+) T cells while both subsets expressed similar levels of Bcl-2. Bak expression was low and Bim expression was absent in PBL. These results suggest that not only Bcl-2 but other members of the Bcl-2 family are involved in T cell development in the thymus and affinity maturation of B cells in the germinal center.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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