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Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Feb 15;15(4):1126-32. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-0144.

Bcl-2 inhibitors: targeting mitochondrial apoptotic pathways in cancer therapy.

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Cancer Center and the Department of Cell Biology and Biochemistry, School of Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, Texas 79430, USA.


Defects in apoptotic pathways can promote cancer cell survival and also confer resistance to antineoplastic drugs. One pathway being targeted for antineoplastic therapy is the anti-apoptotic B-cell lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2) family of proteins (Bcl-2, Bcl-XL, Bcl-w, Mcl-1, Bfl1/A-1, and Bcl-B) that bind to and inactivate BH3-domain pro-apoptotic proteins. Signals transmitted by cellular damage (including antineoplastic drugs) or cytokine deprivation can initiate apoptosis via the intrinsic apoptotic pathway. It is controversial whether some BH3-domain proteins (Bim or tBid) directly activate multidomain pro-apoptotic proteins (e.g., Bax and Bak) or act via inhibition of those anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins (Bcl-2, Bcl-XL, Bcl-w, Mcl-1, Bfl1/A-1, and Bcl-B) that stabilize pro-apoptotic proteins. Overexpression of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members has been associated with chemotherapy resistance in various human cancers, and preclinical studies have shown that agents targeting anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members have preclinical activity as single agents and in combination with other antineoplastic agents. Clinical trials of several investigational drugs targeting the Bcl-2 family (oblimersen sodium, AT-101, ABT-263, GX15-070) are ongoing. Here, we review the role of the Bcl-2 family in apoptotic pathways and those agents that are known and/or designed to inhibit the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family of proteins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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