Pathways leading to apoptosis resistance in a murine B -cell lymphoma cell system

John Ford Kurland, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The aberrant activation of signal transduction pathways has long been linked to uncontrolled cell proliferation and the development of cancer. The activity of one such signaling module, the Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase (MAPK) pathway, has been implicated in several cancer types including pancreatic, breast, colon, and lymphoid malignancies. Interestingly, the activation of MAP-Kinase-Kinase-Kinase proteins often leads to the additional activation of NF-κB, a transcription factor that acts as a cell survival signal through its control of antiapoptotic genes. We have investigated the role of a specific dimer form of the NF-κB transcription factor family, NF-κB1 (p50) homodimers, in its control of the proto-oncogene, Bcl-2, and we have identified the MEK/ERK (MAPK) signaling cascade as a mediator of NF-κB1 activity. Two murine B cell lymphoma cell lines were used for these studies: LY-as, an apoptosis proficient line with low Bcl-2 protein expression and no nuclear NF-κB activity, and LY-ar, a nonapoptotic line with constitutive p50 homodimer activity and 30 times more Bcl-2 protein expression than LY-as. Experiments modulating p50 activity correlated the activation of p50 homodimers with Bcl-2 expression and additional gel shift experiments demonstrated that the Bcl-2 P1 promoter had NF-κB sites with which recombinant p50 was able to interact. In vitro transcription revealed that p50 enhanced the production of transcripts derived from the Bcl-2 P1 promoter. These data strongly suggest that Bcl-2 is a target gene for p50-mediated transcription and suggest that the activation of p50 homodimers contributes to the expression of Bcl-2 observed in LY-ar cells. Studies of upstream MAPK pathways that could influence NF-κB activity demonstrated that LY-ar cells had phosphorylated ERK proteins while LY-as cells did not. Treatment of LY-ar cells with the MEK inhibitors PD 98059, U0126, and PD 184352 led to a loss of phosphorylated ERK, a reversal of nuclear p50 homodimer DNA binding, and a decrease in the amount of Bcl-2 protein expression. Similarly, the activation of the MEK/ERK pathway in LY-as cells by phorbol ester led to Bcl-2 expression that could be blocked by PD 98059. Furthermore, treatment of LY-ar cells with TNFα, an IKK activator, did not change the suppressive effect of PD 98059 on p50 homodimer activity, suggesting an IKK-independent pathway for p50 homodimer activation. Lastly, all three MEK inhibitors sensitized LY-ar cells to radiation-induced apoptosis. These data indicate that the activation of the MEK/ERK MAP-Kinase signaling pathway acts upstream of p50 homodimer activation and Bcl-2 expression in this B cell lymphoma cell system and suggest that the activation of MEK/ERK may be a key step in the progression of lymphoma to advanced-staged disease. Other researchers have used MEK inhibitors to inhibit cell growth and sensitize a number of tumors to chemotherapies. In light of our data, MEK inhibitors may additionally be useful clinically to radiosensitize cancers of lymphoid origin.

Subject Area

Oncology|Cellular biology|Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Kurland, John Ford, "Pathways leading to apoptosis resistance in a murine B -cell lymphoma cell system" (2003). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3083497.