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Oncogene. 2004 Jan 22;23(3):839-44.

Transcriptional repressor BCL-6 immortalizes germinal center-like B cells in the absence of p53 function.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology and The Walther Oncology Center, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA.


Chromosomal rearrangements in non-Hodgkin's B-cell lymphoma implicate BCL-6 as an oncogene, yet direct evidence for BCL-6 acting as an oncogene in B cells has been lacking. Here, we show that BCL-6 can immortalize primary B cells, but only in the absence of p53 tumor suppressor function. The expression of BCL-6 led to greatly increased B-cell proliferation, particularly in response to CD40 stimulation. Furthermore, BCL-6-infected p53-deficient B cells gave rise to immortalized cell lines that could be maintained by CD40 stimulation. We found that in primary mouse B cells, BCL-6 repressed expression of the Blimp-1, p27kip1, and cyclin D2 target genes. BCL-6 did not markedly repress the PDCD2 and BCL-XL target genes. The BCL-6 immortalized cell lines had a phenotype consistent with germinal center B cells, they expressed the germinal center-specific M17 gene, and a significant fraction of the cells stained positive with PNA. Our data indicate that BCL-6 may act to maintain B cells in a germinal center-like state, and repression of Blimp-1 by BCL-6 may be particularly crucial for stabilization of the germinal center phenotype. Our data also suggest that disruption of the p53 pathway may be crucial for the development of BCL-6-expressing B-cell lymphomas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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