Potential roles forbcl-2 in the pathogenesis, progression, and treatment of prostate cancer

Elizabeth Mary Bruckheimer, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The most common molecular alterations observed in prostate cancer are increased bcl-2 protein expression and mutations in p53. Understanding the molecular alterations associated with prostate cancer are critical for successful treatment and designing new therapeutic interventions. Hormone-ablation therapy remains the most effective nonsurgical treatment; however, most patients will relapse with hormone-independent, refractory disease. This study addresses how hormone-ablation therapy may increase bcl-2, develops a transgenic model to elucidate the role of bcl-2 multistep prostate carcinogenesis, and assesses how bcl-2 may confer resistance to cell death induction using adenoviral wild-type p53 gene therapy. Two potential androgen response elements were identified in the bcl-2 promoter. Bcl-2 promoter luciferase constructs were transfected into the hormone- sensitive LNCaP prostate cell line. In the presence of dihydrotestosterone, the activity of one bcl-2 promoter luciferase construct was repressed 40% compared to control cells grown in charcoal-stripped serum. Additionally, it was demonstrated that both bcl-2 mRNA and protein were downregulated in the LNCaP cells grown in the presence DHT. This suggests that DHT represses bcl-2 expression through possible direct and indirect mechanisms and that hormone-ablation therapy may actually increases bcl-2 protein. To determine the role of bcl-2 in prostate cancer progression in vivo, probasin-bcl-2 mice were generated where human bcl-2 was targeted to the prostate. Increased bcl-2 expression rendered the ventral prostate more resistant to apoptosis induction following castration. When the probasin-bcl-2 mice were crossed with TRAMP mice, the latency to tumor formation was decreased. The expression of bcl-2 in the double transgenic mice did not affect the incidence of metastases. The double transgenic model will facilitate the study of in vivo effects of specific genetic lesions during the pathogenesis of prostate cancer. The effects of increased bcl-2 protein on wild-type adenoviral p53-mediated cell death were determined in prostatic cell lines. Increased bcl-2 protected PC3 and DU145 cell lines, which possess mutant p53, from p53-mediated cell death and reductions in cell viability. Bcl-2 did not provide the same protective effect in LNCaP cell line, which expresses wild-type p53. This suggests that the ability of bcl-2 to protect against p53-mediated cell death is dependent upon the endogenous status of p53.

Subject Area

Cellular biology|Molecular biology|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Bruckheimer, Elizabeth Mary, "Potential roles forbcl-2 in the pathogenesis, progression, and treatment of prostate cancer" (1999). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9929372.