[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In response to nutrient stress, cells start an autophagy program that can lead to adaptation or death. The mechanisms underlying the signaling from starvation to the initiation of autophagy are not fully understood. In the current study we show that the absence or inactivation of PARP-1 strongly delays starvation-induced autophagy. We have found that DNA damage is an early event of starvation-induced autophagy as measured by γ-H2AX accumulation and comet assay, with PARP-1 knockout cells displaying a reduction in both parameters. During starvation, ROS-induced DNA damage activates PARP-1, leading to ATP depletion (an early event after nutrient deprivation). The absence of PARP-1 blunted AMPK activation and prevented the complete loss of mTOR activity, leading to a delay in autophagy. PARP-1 depletion favors apoptosis in starved cells, suggesting a pro-survival role of autophagy and PARP-1 activation after nutrient deprivation. In vivo results show that neonates of PARP-1 mutant mice subjected to acute starvation, also display deficient liver autophagy, implying a physiological role for PARP-1 in starvation-induced autophagy. Thus, the PARP signaling pathway is a key regulator of the initial steps of autophagy commitment following starvation.
Cell Research 04/2012; 22(7):1181-98. · 10.53 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To examine direct and bystander radiation-induced effects in normal umbilical-cord stromal stem cell (HCSSC) lines and in human cancer cells.
The UCSSC lines used in this study were obtained in our laboratory. Two cell lines (UCSSC 35 and UCSSC 37) and two human melanoma skin-cancer cells (A375 and G361) were exposed to ionizing radiation to measure acute radiation-dosage cell-survival curves and radiation-induced bystander cell-death response. Normal cells, although extremely sensitive to ionizing radiation, were resistant to the bystander effect whilst tumor cells were sensitive to irradiated cell-conditioned media, showing a dose-response relationship that became saturated at relatively low doses. We applied a biophysical model to describe bystander cell-death through the binding of a ligand to the cells. This model allowed us to calculate the maximum cell death (χ(max)) produced by the bystander effect together with its association constant (K(By)) in terms of dose equivalence (Gy). The values obtained for K(By) in A375 and G361 cells were 0.23 and 0.29 Gy, respectively.
Our findings help to understand how anticancer therapy could have an additional decisive effect in that the response of sub-lethally hit tumor cells to damage might be required for therapy to be successful because the survival of cells communicating with irradiated cells is reduced.
Radiotherapy and Oncology 12/2011; 102(3):450-8. · 4.52 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DNA methyltransferase (DNMT)-inhibiting nucleoside analogs reactivate the expression of tumor suppressor genes and apoptosis-related genes silenced by methylation, thus favoring the induction of apoptosis in tumor cells. Moreover, induction of DNA damage seems to contribute to their antitumor effect. However, the apoptotic signaling pathway induced by these demethylating drugs is not well understood. Here, we have investigated the induction of apoptosis by two nucleoside DNMT inhibitors, decitabine and zebularine, in leukemic T cells. Both inhibitors induced caspase-dependent apoptosis in Jurkat, CEM-6 and MOLT-4 leukemia T cell lines, all with mutant p53, whereas resting and activated normal T lymphocytes were highly resistant to these demethylating agents. Although decitabine and zebularine showed different ability to induce apoptosis and cell cycle arrest among the three cell lines, they similarly activated the intrinsic apoptotic pathway by inducing mitochondrial alterations such as Bak activation, loss of transmembrane potential and generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Accordingly, Bcl-2- and Bcl-x(L) -overexpressing Jurkat cells, as well as caspase-9-deficient Jurkat cells, were resistant to apoptosis induced by decitabine and zebularine. Interestingly, ROS production seemed to be necessary for the induction of apoptosis. Apoptotic events, such as Bak and caspase activation, started as soon as 20 hr after treatment with either decitabine or zebularine. In addition, progression of apoptosis triggered by both DNMT inhibitors was paralleled by the induction of DNA damage. Our results suggest that the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway activated by decitabine and zebularine in p53 mutant leukemic T cells depends mainly on the induction of DNA damage.
International Journal of Cancer 03/2011; 130(5):1195-207. · 6.20 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Epigenetic modifications commonly associated with tumor development, such as histone deacetylation, may influence the resistance of some tumor cells to tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) by regulating gene transcription of components of the TRAIL signalling pathway. In the present study we have analyzed the effect of six different histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi), belonging to the four classic structural families, on TRAIL-induced apoptosis in leukemic T cell lines. Non-toxic and functional doses of all HDACi but apicidin, similarly sensitized different leukemic T cell lines to TRAIL-induced apoptosis, while they showed no effect on the resistance of normal T lymphocytes. Sensitizing doses of vorinostat, valproic acid, sodium butyrate and MS-275 regulated the expression of TRAIL-R2, c-FLIP and Apaf-1 in leukemic cells while TSA modulated only the expression of Apaf-1. The synergistic effect of all HDACi and TRAIL was inhibited in Bcl-2-overexpressing leukemic T cells. Thus, different HDACi may affect the expression of different TRAIL-related genes, but regulation of the mitochondrial pathway seems to be essential for the TRAIL sensitizing effect of HDACi in leukemic T cells. Overall, HDACi represent a promising and safe strategy in combination with TRAIL for treatment of T-cell leukaemia.
Cancer letters 11/2010; 297(1):91-100. · 4.86 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Angiotensin II receptor type 1 (AT1) activation leads to vasoconstriction and type 2 receptor (AT2) leads to vasodilation. Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) antagonizes the effects of AT1. In human and murine pregnancies, uterine natural killer (uNK) cells closely associate with decidual blood vessels. Protein localization of AT1, AT2, and ANP to mouse uNK cells was examined between gestation days (gds) 6 and 12, the interval of uNK cell expansion. Percentages of uNK cells expressing AT1 or AT2 changed between gd6 and gd10. Atrial natriuretic peptide did not localize to uNK cells at gd6 or 8, but did colocalize to uNK cells at gd10 and 12, times immediately after spiral arterial modification. This is the first report of AT1, AT2, and ANP expression in uterine immune cells. Expression of these molecules suggests that uNK cells have the potential to contribute to the changes in blood pressure that occur between days 5 and 12 of pregnancy in mice.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Microbial exopolysaccharides (EPSs) are highly heterogeneous polymers produced by fungi and bacteria and have recently been attracting considerable attention from biotechnologists because of their potential applications in many fields, including biomedicine. We have screened the antitumoural activity of a panel of sulphated EPSs produced by a newly discovered species of halophilic bacteria. We found that the novel halophilic bacterium Halomonas stenophila strain B100 produced a heteropolysaccharide that, when oversulphated, exerted antitumoural activity on T cell lines deriving from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). Only tumour cells were susceptible to apoptosis induced by the sulphated EPS (B100S), whilst primary T cells were resistant. Moreover, freshly isolated primary cells from the blood of patients with ALL were also susceptible to B100S-induced apoptosis. The newly discovered B100S is therefore the first bacterial EPS that has been demonstrated to exert a potent and selective pro-apoptotic effect on T leukaemia cells, and thus, we propose that the search for new antineoplastic drugs should include the screening of other bacterial EPSs, particularly those isolated from halophiles.
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 10/2010; 89(2):345-55. · 3.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine if fetal-placental hypoxia is a primary outcome of defective spiral artery remodeling.
Pregnancies in Rag2(-/-)Il2rg(-/-) double knock-out mice, which fail to undergo normal physiological spiral arterial remodeling, were compared to syngeneic BALB/c control pregnancies. Mice at gestation day (gd)6, 8, 10, 12 and 18 were infused with Hypoxyprobe-1 before euthanasia to enable detection of cellular hypoxia by immunohistochemistry.
In implantation sites of both phenotypes, trophoblast cells were reactive to Hypoxyprobe-1. No major differences were observed between the phenotypes in decidua or placenta at any gd or in gd18 fetal brain, lung, heart, liver or intestine or in maternal heart, brain, liver or spleen. Maternal kidneys from BALB/c were significantly hypoxic to Rag2(-/-)Il2rg(-/-) kidneys.
In mice, lack of pregnancy-associated spiral artery remodeling does not impair oxygen delivery to the conceptus, challenging the concept that deficient spiral arterial remodeling leads to fetal hypoxia in human gestational complications such as preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction. The isolated hypoxic response of normal kidney has revealed that renal lymphocytes may have unique, tissue-specific regulatory actions on vasoconstriction that are pregnancy independent.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Wingless-type mouse mammary tumor virus integration site family, member 5A (WNT5A), is expressed in mouse decidua and is thought to play an important role in decidualization. We examined expression of the receptor for WNT5A, receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 2 (ROR2), in the uteri of cycling and pregnant mice.
Reverse transcription (RT)-PCR and immunohistochemistry were performed.
RT-PCR revealed that transcripts for Ror2, Wnt3a, Wnt5a and inhibitor of WNT signaling, Dickkopf homolog 1 (Dkk1), were present in the pregnant uterus. Immunohistochemistry revealed that in the virgin uterus, ROR2 is expressed in stromal cells and on the basal side of uterine gland and endometrial epithelial cells. During pregnancy, both the luminal and basal side of uterine gland epithelial cells expressed ROR2, stromal cell expression of ROR2 became more frequent and ROR2 expressing uterine Natural Killer (NK) cells and cells lining the maternal vascular space emerged. Immunofluorescence imaging and flow cytometry revealed that although uterine NK cells expressed ROR2, NK cells of the spleen were ROR2 negative.
The expression of ROR2 by endometrial epithelial cells may suggest WNT signaling has roles in uterine epithelial cell polarity or implantation. Expression of ROR2 by uterine NK cells may suggest WNT signaling regulates uterine NK cell functions such angiogenesis and regulation of trophoblast migration. In summary, our results show that ROR2 expression by maternal uterine cells is influenced by pregnancy.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human decidual stromal cells (DSC) have been shown to be involved in different immune functions that may be relevant for the relationship between the mother and fetus and hence for successful pregnancy. The expression of death ligands by fetal trophoblast and maternal decidual cells has been proposed as a mechanism for the establishment of materno-fetal immunotolerance. This study intended to elucidate the interrelations between DSC and lymphocytes. We analyzed the expression and function of death receptors and ligands in DSC maintained in culture. These DSC lines expressed CD95 and TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand receptor-2 (TRAIL-R2), although they were resistant to death receptor-mediated apoptosis. Regarding the expression of CD95L and TRAIL, it was variable among DSC lines although none of them induced apoptosis in death ligand-sensitive Jurkat T cells. Interestingly, most of the DSC lines, as well as fresh DSC, reduced apoptosis in Jurkat cells induced by anti-CD95 antibody and recombinant TRAIL. The protective effect of DSC was observed when they were co-cultured with Jurkat cells in Transwell plates, indicating that DSC may produce soluble factors of importance for lymphocyte survival. Moreover, the viability of peripheral blood lymphocytes and decidual lymphocytes was improved when co-cultured with DSC. Our results suggest that DSC, far from inducing apoptosis, may be relevant in the regulation of lymphocyte survival at the materno-fetal interface.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several combined strategies have been recently proposed to overcome the resistance to tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) showed by some tumor cells, thus improving the use of this death ligand in antitumor therapy. However, the molecular mechanisms of the tumor selective activity of TRAIL are not completely understood and hence the effects of the combined therapy on normal cells are unknown. Here, we have studied the resistance of primary T lymphocytes to TRAIL-mediated apoptosis. No significant differences were found in the expression of proteins involved in TRAIL-mediated apoptosis between resting and activated T cells. The low expression of death receptors TRAIL-R1/-R2 as well as the high levels of the antiapoptotic proteins TRAIL-R4 and cellular Fas-associated death domain-like IL-1beta-converting enzyme-inhibitory protein (c-FLIP) may explain the lack of caspase-8 activation observed upon TRAIL treatment in both cell types. We have also analyzed the effect of different sensitizing agents such as genotoxic drugs, phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K) inhibitors, proteasome inhibitors, microtubule depolymerizing agents, histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi), and NF-kappaB inhibitors. Although some of them induced T cell death, only NF-kappaB inhibitors sensitized activated T cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis, maybe through the regulation of the antiapoptotic proteins TRAIL-R4, c-FLIP(S) and members of the inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (IAP) family. These results question the safety of the combined treatments with TRAIL and NF-kappaB inhibitors against tumors.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Treatment of human breast tumor cells with interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) elevates caspase-8 expression and sensitizes these cells to death receptor-mediated apoptosis through the increased processing and activation of apical procaspase-8. We have characterized the human caspase-8 gene promoter and studied the transcriptional regulation of caspase-8 gene expression in MCF-7 breast tumor cells treated with IFN-gamma. Our findings show that IFN-gamma induces the up-regulation of caspase-8 mRNA expression through a protein synthesis-dependent mechanism involving the action of the IFN-gamma-inducible transcription factor interferon regulatory factor-1 (IRF-1) and without altering mRNA stability. The human caspase-8 gene promoter lacks recognizable TATA and CAAT boxes but contains a consensus Sp1 binding site. We have identified two major IFN-gamma-inducible transcriptional start sites in these cells by S1 nuclease mapping, confirmed by primer extension analysis. Deletion analysis of the promoter defined an 82-bp minimal region responsible for IFN-gamma-inducible promoter activity. In this region, we have identified an IFN-stimulated response element that is important for both the basal and IFN-gamma-enhanced transcriptional activities. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay analysis demonstrated that IFN-gamma induces a complex between an oligonucleotide probe containing the ISRE motif and IRF-1 over a similar time scale to the induction of caspase-8 mRNA. Exogenously expressed IRF-1 in MCF-7 cells up-regulated the activity of a luciferase reporter plasmid containing an 82-bp region of the caspase-8 promoter. These data define a new pathway through which IFN-gamma might control the sensitivity of tumor cell to death receptor-mediated apoptosis.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/2004; 279(19):19712-20. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand receptor 3 (TRAIL-R3) is a decoy receptor for TRAIL, a member of the tumor necrosis factor family. In several cell types decoy receptors inhibit TRAIL-induced apoptosis by binding TRAIL and thus preventing its binding to proapoptotic TRAIL receptors. We studied the regulation of TRAIL-R3 gene expression in breast tumor cells treated with the genotoxic drug doxorubicin (DXR). The breast tumor cell line MCF-7 (p53 wild type) responded to DXR with a marked elevation of TRAIL-R3 expression at the mRNA, total protein, and cell surface levels. In contrast, in EVSA-T cells (p53 mutant) DXR did not induce increased expression of TRAIL-R3. In MCF-7 cells overexpressing the human papillomavirus protein E6, which causes p53 degradation, DXR-induced TRAIL-R3 expression was notably reduced. Furthermore, in MCF-7 cells overexpressing a temperature-sensitive p53 mutant (Val135), shifting the cultures to the permissive temperature was sufficient to induce the expression of TRAIL-R3. We also cloned and characterized a p53 consensus element located within the first intron of the human TRAIL-R3 gene. This element binds p53 and confers responsiveness to genotoxic damage to constructs of the TRAIL-R3 promoter in transient transfection experiments. Our results indicate that genotoxic treatments such as DXR, frequently used in cancer therapy, may also induce genes such as TRAIL-R3 that potentially have antiapoptotic actions and thus interfere with the TRAIL signaling system. This is particularly important in view of the proposed use of TRAIL in antitumor therapy.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 03/2004; 279(6):4093-101. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Induction of apoptosis in tumor cells by death receptor activation is a novel therapeutic strategy. However, in systemic antitumor treatments, severe toxic effects have been observed with tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and CD95 ligand. TNF-alpha causes a lethal inflammatory response and CD95L produces lethal liver damage. Preclinical studies in mice and nonhuman primates showed no systemic cytotoxicity upon injection of recombinant TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) at doses that effectively suppressed solid tumors such as colon and mammary carcinomas. Although unwanted effects of some TRAIL preparations have been reported in normal cells, these data suggest that TRAIL could be a suitable approach in cancer therapy. However, several mechanisms of resistance to TRAIL-mediated apoptosis have been described in tumor cells such as lack of TRAIL apoptotic receptors, enhanced expression of TRAIL-decoy receptors, and expression of apoptosis inhibitors. In combination regimes, interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) could provide a promising antitumor therapeutic approach as it has been described to enhance cellular susceptibility to apoptosis in a variety of tumor cells. The mechanism by which IFN-gamma promotes cell death seems to be via the regulation of the expression of different proteins involved in apoptosis. Altogether, these data suggest a combination strategy to selectively kill tumor cells that need to be further explored.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Death receptor CD95 gene expression is frequently low in human breast tumors and is up-regulated by genotoxic treatments in a p53-dependent manner. We have evaluated the relative contribution of promoter and intronic p53 consensus sites to the regulation of the human CD95 gene in breast tumor cells following doxorubicin treatment. Deletion constructs of the promoter region and site-directed mutagenesis of p53 consensus sites in a fragment spanning 1448 bp of the 5'-promoter demonstrate that these sites are not involved in the observed up-regulation of the CD95 gene upon doxorubicin treatment. In contrast, a p53 consensus site located within the first intron of CD95 gene is absolutely required for the inducible expression of CD95 upon genotoxic treatment in breast tumor cells. Analysis of the transcriptional activity of the two most common p53 mutants found in human breast tumors that are associated with resistance to doxorubicin reveals that these mutations completely eliminate the ability of p53 protein to transactivate CD95 gene expression. On the other hand, Bcl-2 overexpression albeit preventing doxorubicin-induced apoptosis, has no effect on p53-mediated CD95 up-regulation in breast tumor cells. Altogether, these results indicate the lack of involvement of p53 consensus sites of the CD95 promoter region and the pivotal role of intronic p53-responsive element in the regulation of human CD95 gene expression in breast tumor cells. Our results also suggest that in breast cancer patients with certain mutations in the p53 gene, expression of death receptor CD95 in response to genotoxic treatments could be severely compromised.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2003; 278(34):31667-75. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tumors display a high rate of glucose uptake and glycolysis. We investigated how inhibition of glucose metabolism could affect death receptor-mediated apoptosis in human tumor cells of diverse origin. We show that both substitution of glucose for pyruvate and treatment with 2-deoxyglucose enhanced apoptosis induced by tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, CD95 agonistic antibody, and TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). Inhibition of glucose metabolism enhanced killing of myeloid leukemia U937, cervical carcinoma HeLa, and breast carcinoma MCF-7 cells upon death receptor ligation. Caspase activation, mitochondrial depolarization, and cytochrome c release were increased under these conditions. Glucose deprivation-mediated sensitization to apoptosis was prevented in MCF-7 cells overexpressing BCL-2. Interestingly, the human B-lymphoblastoid cell line SKW6.4, a prototype for mitochondria-independent death receptor-induced apoptosis, was also sensitized to anti-CD95 and TRAIL-induced apoptosis under glucose-free conditions. Changes in c-FLIP(L) and cFLIPs levels were observed in some but not all the cell lines studied following glucose deprivation. Glucose deprivation enhanced death receptor-triggered formation of death-inducing signaling complex and early processing of procaspase-8. Altogether, these results suggest that the glycolytic pathway may be an important target for therapeutic intervention to sensitize tumor cells to selectively toxic soluble death ligands or death ligand-expressing cells of the immune system by facilitating the activation of initiator caspase-8.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 05/2003; 278(15):12759-68. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tumour necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL/APO-2L) induces apoptosis in a variety of tumour cells upon binding to death receptors TRAIL-R1 and TRAIL-R2. Here we describe the sensitization by interferon (IFN)-gamma to TRAIL-induced apoptosis in the breast tumour cell lines MCF-7 and MDA-MB231. IFN-gamma promoted TRAIL-mediated activation of caspase-8, Bcl-2 interacting domain death agonist (Bid) degradation, Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax) translocation to mitochondria, cytochrome c release to the cytosol and activation of caspase-9 in these cell lines. No changes in the expression of TRAIL receptors were observed upon IFN-gamma treatment. Overexpression of Bcl-2 in MCF-7 cells completely inhibited IFN-gamma-induced sensitization to TRAIL-mediated cell death. Interestingly, TRAIL-induced apoptosis was also clearly enhanced by IFN-gamma in caspase-3-overexpressing MCF-7 cells, in the absence of Bax translocation to mitochondria and cytochrome c release to the cytosol. In summary, our results suggest that IFN-gamma facilitates TRAIL-induced activation of mitochondria-regulated as well as mitochondria-independent apoptotic pathways in breast tumour cells.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We studied the role of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway in the regulation of tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)-mediated apoptosis in breast tumor MCF-7 cells. We found that addition of a protein kinase C (PKC) activator to MCF-7 cultures prevented TRAIL-induced apoptosis, by inhibiting a step downstream of both caspase-8 activation and BID cleavage. TRAIL-induced translocation of Bax from cytosol to mitochondria, release of cytochrome c from mitochondria and activation of caspase-9 were all inhibited by PKC activation. PKC-mediated prevention of mitochondrial apoptotic events and apoptosis was found to be dependent on the MAPK pathway. Since TRAIL is a ligand of potential use in antineoplastic clinical trials, our findings may provide relevant information in cancer therapy.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Regulation of the homeostasis of vascular endothelium is critical for the processes of vascular remodeling and angiogenesis under physiological and pathological conditions. Here we show that doxorubicin (Dox), a drug used in antitumor therapy, triggered a marked accumulation of p53 and induced CD95 gene expression and apoptosis in proliferating human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Transfection and site-directed mutagenesis experiments using the CD95 promoter fused to an intronic enhancer indicated the requirement for a p53 site for Dox-induced promoter activation. Furthermore, the p53 inhibitor pifithrin-alpha (PFT-alpha) blocked both promoter inducibility and protein up-regulation of CD95 in response to Dox. Up-regulated CD95 in Dox-treated cells was functional in eliciting apoptosis upon incubation of the cells with an agonistic CD95 antibody. However, Dox-mediated apoptosis was independent of CD95/CD95L interaction. The analysis of apoptosis in the presence of PFT-alpha and benzyloxycarbonyl-Val-Ala-dl-Asp-fluoromethylketone revealed that both p53 and caspase activation are required for Dox-mediated apoptosis of HUVECs. Finally, Dox triggered Bcl-2 down-regulation, cytochrome c release from mitochondria, and the activation of caspases 9 and 3, suggesting the involvement of a mitochondrially operated pathway of apoptosis. These results highlight the role of p53 in the response of primary endothelial cells to genotoxic drugs and may reveal a novel mechanism underlying the antitumoral properties of Dox, related to its ability to induce apoptosis in proliferating endothelial cells.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 04/2002; 277(13):10883-92. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bc1-2 protein is a potent anti-apoptotic protein that inhibits a mitochondria-operated pathway of apoptosis in many cells. DNA damaging agents and death receptor ligands can activate this mitochondrial apoptotic mechanism. Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) has been suggested to escape from the inhibitory action of Bc1-2 protein. We show that in human breast tumor MCF-7 cells, TRAIL induced a mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis that involved cytochrome c release from mitochondria and activation of caspase 9. The DNA damaging drug doxorubicin also activated this mitochondria-regulated mechanism of apoptosis, which was inhibited in Bc1-2-overexpressing cells. We also demonstrate that in MCF-7 cells Bc1-2 might confer resistance to TRAIL-induced apoptosis, depending on the expression levels of the anti-apoptotic protein. These results indicate that enhanced expression of Bc1-2 in tumor cells can render these cells less sensitive not only to chemotherapeutic drugs but also to TRAIL.