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EMBO J. 1996 Dec 16;15(24):6991-7001.

Bax alpha perturbs T cell development and affects cell cycle entry of T cells.

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Division of Molecular Genetics, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam.


Bax alpha can heterodimerize with Bcl-2 and Bcl-X(L), countering their effects, as well as promoting apoptosis on overexpression. We show that bax alpha transgenic mice have greatly reduced numbers of mature T cells, which results from an impaired positive selection in the thymus. This perturbation in positive selection is accompanied by an increase in the number of cycling thymocytes. Further to this, mature T cells overexpressing Bax alpha have lower levels of p27Kip1 and enter S phase more rapidly in response to interleukin-2 stimulation than do control T cells, while the converse is true of bcl-2 transgenic T cells. These data indicate that apoptotic regulatory proteins can modulate the level of cell cycle-controlling proteins and thereby directly impact on the cell cycle.

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