Subcellular distribution and redistribution of Bcl-2 family proteins in human leukemia cells undergoing apoptosis.Blood. 1999 Apr 01; 93(7):2353-9.Blood
It has been suggested that the ratio of Bcl-2 family proapoptotic proteins to antiapoptotic proteins determines the sensitivity of leukemic cells to apoptosis. However, it is believed that Bcl-2 family proteins exert their function on apoptosis only when they target to the mitochondrial outer membrane. The vinblastine-resistant T-lymphoblastic leukemic cell line CEM/VLB100 has increased sensitivity to tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha)-induced cytochrome c release, mitochondrial respiratory inhibition, and consequently apoptosis, compared with parental CEM cells. However, there was no difference between the two cell lines in the expression of Bcl-2 family proteins Bcl-2, Bcl-XL, Bcl-XS, Bad, and Bax at the whole cell level, as analyzed by Western blotting. Bcl-2 mainly located to mitochondria and light membrane as a membrane-bound protein, whereas Bcl-XL was located in both mitochondria and cytosol. Similar levels of both Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL were present in the resting mitochondria of the two cell lines. Although the proapoptotic proteins Bcl-XS, Bad, and Bax were mainly located in the cytosol, CEM/VLB100 mitochondria expressed higher levels of these proapoptotic proteins. Subcellular redistribution of the Bcl-2 family proteins was detected in a cell-free system by both Western blotting and flow cytometry after exposure to TNF-alpha. The levels of Bcl-2 family proteins were not altered at the whole cell level by TNF-alpha. However, after exposure to TNF-alpha, Bax, Bad, and Bcl-XS translocated from the cytosol to the mitochondria of both cell lines. An increase in Bcl-2 levels was observed in CEM mitochondria, which showed resistance to TNF-alpha-induced cytochrome c release. By contrast, decreased mitochondrial Bcl-2 was observed in CEM/VLB100 cells, which released cytochrome c from the mitochondria and underwent apoptosis as detected by fluorescence microscopy. We conclude that mitochondrial levels of Bcl-2 family proteins may determine the sensitivity of leukemic cells to apoptosis and that, furthermore, these levels may change rapidly after exposure of cells to toxic stimuli.