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This article has been peer reviewed. It was the published in: The Journal of experimental medicine.

Volume 187, Issue 12, June 1998, Pages 1995-2007.

The published version is available at PMID: 9625759 . Copyright © Rockefeller University Press.


The oncogenic BCR/ABL protein protects hematopoietic cells from apoptosis induced by growth factor deprivation, but the mechanisms are only partially understood. A BCR/ABL mutant lacking amino acids 176-426 in the BCR domain (p185DeltaBCR) failed to protect interleukin 3-deprived 32Dcl3 myeloid precursor cells from apoptosis, although it possessed tyrosine kinase activity and was capable of activating the Ras-Raf-MAP kinase pathway. Compared to p185 wild-type transfectants, p185DeltaBCR-transfected cells showed markedly reduced levels of Bcl-2 and expressed the hypophosphorylated, proapoptotic form of BAD. Bcl-2 expression in the mitochondrial fraction of p185DeltaBCR cells was also markedly diminished and mitochondrial RAF was undetectable. In p185DeltaBCR cells transfected with a mitochondria-targeted, constitutively active RAF (M-Raf) BAD was expressed in the hyperphosphorylated form and released from the mitochondria into the cytosol. p185DeltaBCR/M-Raf-transfected cells were completely resistant to apoptosis induced by growth factor deprivation in vitro. Moreover, constitutive expression of dominant-negative M-Raf (K375W) enhanced the susceptibility of 32Dcl3 cells expressing wild-type BCR/ABL to apoptosis. In severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice, p185DeltaBCR/M-Raf double transfectants were leukemogenic, whereas cells expressing only p185DeltaBCR showed no leukemogenic potential. Together, these data support the existence of a BCR/ABL-dependent pathway that leads to expression of an active RAF in the mitochondria and promotes antiapoptotic and leukemia-inducing effects of BCR/ABL.

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