Reduction of radiation-induced apoptosis by specific expression of Bcl-2 in normal cells

H. Itamochi, F. Yamasaki, T. Sudo, T. Takahashi, C. Bartholomeusz, S. Das, N. Terakawa, N. T. Ueno

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Radiation-induced apoptosis is thought to underlie the toxicity of radiation to normal tissues as well as to cancer cells. We hypothesized that specific ectopic overexpression of the antiapoptotic molecule Bcl-2 in normal cells would inhibit radiation-induced apoptosis and thereby reduce radiation-induced toxicity in normal cells. To express Bcl-2 specifically in normal cells (which have wild-type (wt) p53) but not in cancer cells (which often have mutated p53), we constructed a Bcl-2 expression plasmid (PG 13-Bcl-2) with a minimal promoter regulated by multiple wt p53 DNA-binding sites and found that the presence of wt p53 protein strongly upregulated Bcl-2 expression through this plasmid. Transfection of NIH 3T3 fibroblasts, which express wt p53, with PG13-Bcl-2 increased cell survival and reduced apoptosis; however, transfection of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, which have mutated p53, did not affect survival and apoptosis of those cells. These results indicate that irradiation of normal cells rapidly upregulates the expression of wt p53, which binds to the p53 binding sequence of the PG13-Bcl-2 plasmid and increases the transcriptional activity of Bcl-2. Ectopic expression of Bcl-2 reduced radiation-induced apoptosis only in normal cells (not in cancer cells). Bcl-2 expression was detected in the lung from mice injected via a tail vein with LPD-PG13-Bcl-2 or LPD-CMV-Bcl-2, but did not in the lung from mice treated with DOTAP or LPD-PG13-mock. This novel approach to inhibiting radiation-induced apoptosis in normal cells may allow such cells to be protected from radiation-induced toxicity. Further preclinical in vivo studies are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-459
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Gene Therapy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 05-2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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