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Genetic recombination during B-cell development regularly results in the generation of autoreactive, potentially pathogenic B-cell receptors (BCRs). Consequently, multiple mechanisms link inappropriate BCR specificity to clonal deletion. Similar pathways remain in malignant B cells, offering the potential for targeting BCR signaling. Recently, small molecule inhibitors have realized this potential and, therefore, a deeper understanding of BCR-induced signaling networks in malignant cells is vital. The BH3-only protein Bim has a key role in BCR-induced apoptosis, but it has long been proposed that additional BH3-only proteins also contribute, although conclusive proof has been lacking. Here, we comprehensively characterized the mechanism of BCR-induced apoptosis in Eμ-Myc murine lymphoma cells. We demonstrate the upregulation of Bim, Bik, and Noxa during BCR signaling in vitro and that intrinsic apoptosis has a prominent role in anti-BCR antibody therapy in vivo. Furthermore, lymphomas deficient in these individual BH3-only proteins display significant protection from BCR-induced cell death, whereas combined loss of Noxa and Bim offers enhanced protection in comparison with loss of Bim alone. Some but not all of these effects were reversed upon inhibition of Syk or MEK. These observations indicate that BCR signaling elicits maximal cell death through upregulation of multiple BH3-only proteins; namely Bim, Bik, and Noxa.


M J Carter, K L Cox, S J Blakemore, Y D Bogdanov, L Happo, C L Scott, A Strasser, G K Packham, M S Cragg. BCR-signaling-induced cell death demonstrates dependency on multiple BH3-only proteins in a murine model of B-cell lymphoma. Cell death and differentiation. 2016 Feb;23(2):303-12

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PMID: 26184912

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