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Blood. 1997 Apr 15;89(8):2833-41.

CD6 ligation modulates the Bcl-2/Bax ratio and protects chronic lymphocytic leukemia B cells from apoptosis induced by anti-IgM.

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Department of Toxicology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


CD6 and CD5 belong to a scavenger-receptor cysteine-rich (SRCR) super family of membrane glycoproteins that are expressed on chronic lymphocytic leukemia B (B-CLL) cells, normal T cells, and a small subset of normal B cells. CD6 configures in the membrane in relation to the cellular activation level and can act as a coreceptor for T-cell activation. We have examined a group of progressive and nonprogressive B-CLL cells. Most B-CLL cells were positive for CD6 and the expression of CD6 was increased after activation with Staphylococcus aureus Cowan I plus interleukin-2 or 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate, although anti-CD6 antibodies did not increase proliferative responses to these stimuli. However, anti-CD6 stimulation was found to protect against anti-IgM-induced apoptosis in B-CLL. bax(alpha) upregulation and bcl-2 downregulation were found in anti-IgM- and glucocorticoid (GCC)-induced apoptotic cells, respectively. Furthermore, CD6 cross-linking downregulated bax(alpha) mRNA levels in anti-IgM-treated cells, resulting in an increased bcl-2/bax(alpha) ratio. CD6 activation also prevented bcl-2 mRNA downregulation and apoptosis induced by GCC in one of six GCC-sensitive patients. These data suggest that an interaction between CD6 and its ligand might contribute to B-CLL survival through the modulation of the Bcl-2/Bax ratio.

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