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Leukemia. 1998 Apr;12(4):532-41.

Antisense sequences of the nbl gene induce apoptosis in the human promyelocytic leukemia cell line HL-60.

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Research School of Biological Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT.


Apoptosis is induced by the transcriptional inhibitor actinomycin D (Act D) in various cell types, particularly many leukemic cell lines such as HL-60. A common feature of these cell lines is their high constitutive expression level of the nbl gene, which was originally isolated by virtue of its abundance in a Namalwa Burkitt lymphoma cDNA library. In contrast, cell lines which constitutively express nbl at low levels appear not to undergo typical apoptotic death in response to Act D. Apoptotic induction by Act D in cells which normally express nbl at high levels was found in this study to be closely associated with a decline in nbl mRNA levels, raising the possibility that apoptosis could be induced by lowering nbl expression levels in such cells. Transient expression of nbl antisense sequences in HL-60 cells decreased cell viability, and induced typical apoptotic morphology such as cell shrinkage, chromatin condensation and nuclear fragmentation. Incubation with nbl antisense oligomers also induced similar features in HL-60 cells and in another high nb-expressing cell line, Jurkat, but had little effect in HepG2 cells which constitutively express nbl at low levels. These findings suggest that lowering constitutively high levels of nbl expression can induce apoptosis.

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