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Oncogene. 1996 Jul 18;13(2):373-9.

Repression of apoptosis in human B-lymphoma cells by CD40-ligand and Bcl-2: relationship to the cell-cycle and role of the retinoblastoma protein.

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Department of Immunology, University of Birmingham Medical School, Edgbaston, UK.


Using a Burkitt lymphoma cell line to model human B-cell apoptosis in vitro, we observed that crosslinking, by antibody, of cell surface immunoglobulin induced G1 growth-arrest followed by apoptosis. By contrast, cells treated with the Ca(2+)-ionophore, ionomycin, generated apoptotic signals in G2/M as well as in G1. Both ionomycin and anti-immunoglobulin treatment induced rapid dephosphorylation of Rb prior to apoptosis. Apoptosis was repressed following exposure to CD40-ligand and was accompanied by hyperphosphorylation of Rb and cell-cycle progression but not Bcl-2 expression. Expression of Bcl-2 protein in stable bcl-2-transfectants, also resulted in repression of apoptosis and anti-immunoglobulin-treated cells no longer underwent growth-arrest. In Bcl-2-expressing cells in which apoptosis was repressed, Rb remained hyperphosphorylated, even during G1-arrest induced by ionomycin. TGF beta treatment of Bcl-2-expressing cells induced G1-arrest, de-phosphorylation of Rb and apoptosis. These results suggest that the functional activity of Bcl-2 in B-lymphoma cells is dependent upon, or leads to, sustained hyperphosphorylation of Rb and that Rb hyperphosphorylation can be uncoupled from cell-cycle progression.

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