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Eur J Immunol. 2004 Nov;34(11):3156-64.

The imbalance between Bim and Mcl-1 expression controls the survival of human myeloma cells.

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INSERM, U601, Département de Cancérologie LNC Label, Institut de Biologie, Nantes, France.


Multiple myeloma is a fatal B cell malignancy characterized by the accumulation of plasma cells within the bone marrow. IL-6 is a major survival factor for myeloma cells. Bcl-2 protein family regulates pathways to apoptosis that are activated upon growth factor deprivation. Pro-apoptotic proteins that have only a single Bcl-2 homology domain, BH3-only, are potent inducers of apoptosis. In myeloma cells, Mcl-1 has been shown to be a major anti-apoptotic protein that appears to regulate cell survival through the JAK/STAT pathway. In this study, we examined the regulation of the BH3-only protein Bim and its interaction with Mcl-1. The three major Bim isoforms are expressed in myeloma cells and are negatively regulated by IL-6. Blockade of IL-6 signaling induces an up-regulation of Bim concomitant to Mcl-1 down-regulation. Of major interest, Bim is found strongly associated with Mcl-1 in viable myeloma cells while this interaction is disrupted under apoptosis induction. Of note, while Bim is also found strongly associated to Bcl-2, this interaction is not changed under apoptosis induction. Thus, in myeloma cells, Mcl-1 neutralizes Bim through complex formation and therefore prevents apoptosis. Under apoptosis induction, the disappearance of Mcl-1 allows Bim to exercise its pro-apoptotic function and to activate Bax.

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