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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Mar 18;94(6):2345-9.

bax-deficiency promotes drug resistance and oncogenic transformation by attenuating p53-dependent apoptosis.

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  • 1Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York 11724, USA.


Inactivation of p53-dependent apoptosis promotes oncogenic transformation, tumor development, and resistance to many cytotoxic anticancer agents. p53 can transcriptionally activate bax, a bcl-2 family member that promotes apoptosis. To determine whether bax is required for p53-dependent apoptosis, the effects of bax deficiency were examined in primary fibroblasts expressing the E1A oncogene, a setting where apoptosis is dependent on endogenous p53. We demonstrate that bax can function as an effector of p53 in chemotherapy-induced apoptosis and contributes to a p53 pathway to suppress oncogenic transformation. Furthermore, we show that additional p53 effectors participate in these processes. These p53-controlled factors act synergistically with Bax to promote a full apoptotic response, and their action is suppressed by the Bcl-2 and E1B 19K oncoproteins. These studies demonstrate that Bax is a determinant of p53-dependent chemosensitivity and illustrate how p53 can promote apoptosis by coordinating the activities of multiple effectors.

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