Apoptosis : an international journal on programmed cell death

Activation of multidomain and BH3-only pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members in p53-defective cells.

PMID 15505424


In the p53-deficient human B lymphoma Namalwa cell line that quickly undergoes apoptosis after DNA topoisomerase I inhibitor (camptothecin, CPT) treatment, we observed rapid and slight induction of the pro-apoptotic BH3-only Bik, Bim-EL, Bim-L and Bim-S proteins. In contrast, the expression levels of Bad and multidomain Bax-alpha and Bak remained mostly unchanged after CPT treatment. However, multiple pro-apoptotic proteins, including Bax-alpha, Bak, Bik, Bim-EL and Bim-L, translocated rapidly to the mitochondria after CPT treatment. Gel filtration chromatography experiments demonstrated that somes of the pro-apoptotic proteins assemble themselves into high molecular weight protein complexes. The protein composition of these oligomers was further analyzed by co-immunoprecipitation experiments performed on highly purified mitochondrial fractions, which revealed the formation of Bax/Bak, Bax/VDAC1, Bak/VDAC1, Bim/VDAC1 and Bim/Bcl-2 complexes after DNA damage induction. Thus, it appeared that induction, mitochondrial translocation and assembly in multimeric protein complexes of several pro-apoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family correlated with the rapid activation of apoptosis in a p53-independent pathway after CPT-mediated DNA strand breaks.