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Mol Biol Cell. 2005 Sep;16(9):4153-62. Epub 2005 Jun 29.

Involvement of PI3K and MAPK signaling in bcl-2-induced vascular endothelial growth factor expression in melanoma cells.

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Experimental Chemotherapy Laboratory, Regina Elena Cancer Institute, 00158 Rome, Italy.


We have previously demonstrated that bcl-2 overexpression in tumor cells exposed to hypoxia increases the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene through the hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1). In this article, we demonstrate that exposure of bcl-2 overexpressing melanoma cells to hypoxia induced phosphorylation of AKT and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 proteins. On the contrary, no modulation of these pathways by bcl-2 was observed under normoxic conditions. When HIF-1alpha expression was reduced by RNA interference, AKT and ERK1/2 phosphorylation were still induced by bcl-2. Pharmacological inhibition of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling pathways reduced the induction of VEGF and HIF-1 in response to bcl-2 overexpression in hypoxia. No differences were observed between control and bcl-2-overexpressing cells in normoxia, in terms of VEGF protein secretion and in response to PI3K and MAPK inhibitors. We also demonstrated that RNA interference-mediated down-regulation of bcl-2 expression resulted in a decrease in the ERK1/2 phosphorylation and VEGF secretion only in bcl-2-overexpressing cell exposed to hypoxia but not in control cells. In conclusion, our results indicate, for the first time, that bcl-2 synergizes with hypoxia to promote expression of angiogenesis factors in melanoma cells through both PI3K- and MAPK-dependent pathways.

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