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Oncogene. 1997 Jun 19;14(24):2971-7.

Anti-cell death activity promotes pulmonary metastasis of melanoma cells.

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The First Department of Internal Medicine, Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine, Japan.


Bcl-2 inhibits apoptosis from a variety of stimuli, and a Bcl-2-binding protein BAG-1 also functions in protection from apoptosis in concert with Bcl-2. Here, we provide evidence that prolonged cell survival introduced by overexpression of Bcl-2 or BAG-1 proteins strongly promotes experimental pulmonary metastasis of melanoma B16-BL6 cells. In murine melanoma cell line B16-BL6, gene transfer-mediated expression of the Bcl-2 or BAG-1 led to prolonged cell survival against serum-starved apoptosis in vitro. The Bcl-2-expressing B16 cells, B16-Bcl-2 and the BAG-1-expressing B16 cells, B16-BAG-1 strongly enhanced pulmonary metastasis in allogenic BALB/c nude mice and whole lung weights were increased by 2.4-fold and 1.4-fold, respectively, compared with control transfectants, suggesting that Bcl-2 is a stronger positive modulator of metastasis. When the viable B16-Bcl-2 and control transfectants were injected subcutaneously into BALB/c nude mice, the colony numbers of pulmonary metastasis of the B16-Bcl-2 transfectant increased by 5.6-fold compared with the control transfectants. These enhanced metastatic potentials in the B16-Bcl-2 and the B16-BAG-1 transfectants were well correlated with anti-cell death activity against serum-starvation and enhanced cell viability on limiting dilution. Analysis of the transfectants however revealed that their growth rates, invasive ability and cell motility were not significantly altered by overexpression of either Bcl-2 or BAG-1 proteins. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that prolonged cell survival is a crucial factor to promote metastasis of melanoma, thereby contributing to tumor progression.

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