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Leuk Lymphoma. 2001 Nov-Dec;42(6):1173-80.

Chromosomal DNA and p53 stability, ubiquitin system and apoptosis in B-CLL lymphocytes.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Radiobiologie et Oncologie (CEA-DSV/DRR), Fontenay aux Roses, France.


The ubiquitin system regulates diverse biological processes such as DNA replication and repair, biogenesis of ribosome, peroxisome and nucleosome, cell cycle, stress response and signal transduction pathways. Thus, the reported role of the ubiquitin system in apoptotic death control as well the alteration of its control in carcinogenesis should come as no surprise. Indeed, we and other groups have reported that the ubiquitin system is involved in apoptotic cell death of normal human lymphocytes and that this control is altered in B lymphocytes derived from chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients (B-CLL), rendering these malignant cells hypersensitive to specific inhibition of protein degradation/processing through proteasomal function. This approach recently allowed us to demonstrate that the stability of the tumor suppressor and pro-apoptotic protein p53 is differentially regulated in B-CLL versus normal lymphocytes and that this difference might at least partly explain the impaired response of B-CLL lymphocytes to apoptotic death activation. These results strongly suggest an imbalance in p53 regulation in B-CLL cells that leads to a variable response to DNA damage and constitutively expressed chromosomal instability. The question we and others would like to address is whether this alteration, or more likely a subset of alterations of the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway, is specific to B-CLL malignancy or if it is a hallmark of cancer cells in general. In either case, a better understanding of the ubiquitin-dependent control of apoptosis should pave the way towards a methodological approach for in vitro development of discriminating treatments which may be of potential usefulness in clinical trials of B-CLL.

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