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Oncogene. 1996 Nov 21;13(10):2287-93.

The apoptosis-associated gamma-ray response of BCL-X(L) depends on normal p53 function.

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Division of Basic Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892-4255, USA.


We have investigated the effect of DNA damage on the expression of BCL-X, a member of the BCL-2 family. BCL-X mRNA levels were found to increase upon exposure human cells to ionizing radiation (IR). The Bcl-X(L) protein, but not Bcl-X(S), was identified to be induced by IR. Like BAX, another member of the BCL-2 family and a p53-regulated gene, the induction of BCL-X(L) was dependent on normal p53 function and required that cells have an apoptosis-susceptible phenotype. The induction of BCL-X(L) was rapid, transient and dose-dependent. The mRNA level peaked at 4 h and returned to baseline by 24 h post-irradiation. In agreement with the increased transcript level, Bcl-X(L) protein level was also observed to increase in cells with wild-type p53 where IR triggered apoptosis. In addition, a survey of the BCL-X(L) mRNA basal levels in human cells with known apoptotic responses showed that low basal levels of BCL-X(L) mRNA in cells were highly correlated with a strong ability of cells to undergo IR-induced apoptosis. On the other hand, high levels of basal BCL-X(L) were correlated with the resistance of cells to IR-induced apoptosis regardless of p53 status. These results indicate that BCL-2 and BCL-X(L) behave differently in response to DNA damage treatment even though they both are able to protect cells from p53-mediated apoptosis; along with down-regulation of BCL-2, BCL-X(L) was up-regulated by IR in human cells with wild-type p53 and susceptibility to IR-induced apoptosis. We speculate that the physiological function of increased BCL-X(L) protein would be expected to probably limit the severity and length of BAX effect in order to maintain a proper threshold for apoptosis and to complete cell cycle arrest activated by p53.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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