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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 May 9;92(10):4397-401.

bcl-2 transgene expression can protect neurons against developmental and induced cell death.

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Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Victoria, Australia.


The bcl-2 protooncogene, which protects various cell types from apoptotic cell death, is expressed in the developing and adult nervous system. To explore its role in regulation of neuronal cell death, we generated transgenic mice expressing Bcl-2 under the control of the neuron-specific enolase promoter, which forced expression uniquely in neurons. Sensory neurons isolated from dorsal root ganglia of newborn mice normally require nerve growth factor for their survival in culture, but those from the bcl-2 transgenic mice showed enhanced survival in its absence. Furthermore, apoptotic death of motor neurons after axotomy of the sciatic nerve was inhibited in these mice. The number of neurons in two neuronal populations from the central and peripheral nervous system was increased by 30%, indicating that Bcl-2 expression can protect neurons from cell death during development. The generation of these transgenic mice suggests that Bcl-2 may play an important role in survival of neurons both during development and throughout adult life.

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