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Chem Biol. 2007 Feb;14(2):209-19.

Apoptosis in T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells after cell cycle arrest induced by pharmacological inhibition of notch signaling.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Merck Sharp and Dohme Research Laboratories, Terlings Park, Harlow, Essex, UK.


In this report, inhibitors of the gamma-secretase enzyme have been exploited to characterize the antiproliferative relationship between target inhibition and cellular responses in Notch-dependent human T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) cell lines. Inhibition of gamma-secretase led to decreased Notch signaling, measured by endogenous NOTCH intracellular domain (NICD) formation, and was associated with decreased cell viability. Flow cytometry revealed that decreased cell viability resulted from a G(0)/G(1) cell cycle block, which correlated strongly to the induction of apoptosis. These effects associated with inhibitor treatment were rescued by exogenous expression of NICD and were not mirrored when a markedly less active enantiomer was used, demonstrating the gamma-secretase dependency and specificity of these responses. Together, these data strengthen the rationale for using gamma-secretase inhibitors therapeutically and suggest that programmed cell death may contribute to reduction of tumor burden in the clinic.

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