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Michael A. Vogelbaum, Jianxin X. Tong, Rajashri Perugu, David H. Gutmann and Keith M. Rich

Object. Cells that lose their ability to undergo apoptosis may promote the development of neoplasms and result in resistance to clinical treatment with DNA-damaging modalities such as radio- and chemotherapy. Four established human glioma cell lines that are resistant to apoptosis were transfected with the proapoptotic gene bax and assessed for their sensitivity to a proapoptotic stimulus.

Methods. Two cell lines had a wild-type p53 genotype (U87 and D247MG) and two had mutant p53 genotypes (U138 and U373). Constitutive overexpression of murine bax was achieved in U138 and U373 only, which resulted in an increased sensitivity of these lines to the apoptosis-inducing effect of cytosine arabinoside (ara-C). Multiple attempts to produce constitutive overexpression of bax in U87 and D247MG cells resulted in spontaneous, near-complete cell loss. Vector-only control transfections were successful in all four cell lines. Inducible overexpression of bax was achieved in the U87 cells and elevated levels of BAX were observed as early as 6 hours after gene induction. This overexpression of BAX resulted in the spontaneous induction of apoptosis in these cells.

Conclusions. Overexpression of BAX in four human glioma cell lines resulted in increased sensitivity to apoptosis. In the two lines that had a wild-type p53 genotype, overexpression of BAX produced spontaneous apoptosis. In contrast, the lines that had mutant, nonfunctional P53 did not undergo spontaneous apoptosis, but they were rendered more sensitive to the apoptosis-inducing effect of ara-C. Modulation of BAX expression may be a useful therapeutic modality for gliomas, regardless of p53 genotype.

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Michael A. Vogelbaum, Jianxin X. Tong, Ryuji Higashikubo, David H. Gutmann and Keith M. Rich

Object. Genes known to be involved in the regulation of apoptosis include members of the bcl-2 gene family, such as inhibitors of apoptosis (bcl-2 and bcl-xl) and promoters of apoptosis (bax). The authors investigated a potential approach for the treatment of malignant gliomas by using a gene transfection technique to manipulate the level of an intracellular protein involved in the control of apoptosis.

Methods. The authors transfected the murine bax gene, which had been cloned into a mammalian expression vector, into the C6 rat glioma cell line. Overexpression of the bax gene resulted in a decreased growth rate (average doubling time of 32.96 hours compared with 22.49 hours for untransfected C6, and 23.11 hours for clones transfected with pcDNA3 only), which may be caused, in part, by an increased rate of spontaneous apoptosis (0.77 ± 0.15% compared with 0.42 ± 0.08% for the vector-only transfected C6 cell line; p = 0.038, two-tailed Student's t-test). Treatment with 1 µM cytosine arabinoside (ara-C) resulted in significantly more cells undergoing apoptosis in the cell line overexpressing bax than in the vector-only control cell line (23.57 ± 2.6% compared with 5.3 ± 0.7% terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase—mediated biotinylated—deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling technique—positive cells; p = 0.007). Furthermore, measurements of growth curves obtained immediately after treatment with 0.5 µM ara-C demonstrated a prolonged growth arrest of at least 6 days in the cell line overexpressing bax.

Conclusions. These results can be used collectively to argue that overexpression of bax results in increased sensitivity of C6 cells to ara-C and that increasing bax expression may be a useful strategy, in general, for increasing the sensitivity of gliomas to antineoplastic treatments.

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Michael A. Vogelbaum, Jianxin X. Tong, Ryuji Higashikubo, David H. Gutmann and Keith M. Rich

Genes known to be involved in the regulation of apoptosis include members of the bcl-2 gene family, such as inhibitors of apoptosis (bcl-2 and bcl-xl) and promotors of apoptosis (bax). The authors investigated a potential approach for the treatment of malignant gliomas by using a gene transfection technique to manipulate the level of an intracellular protein involved in the control of apoptosis.

The authors transfected the murine bax gene, which had been cloned into a mammalian expression vector, into the C6 rat glioma cell line. Overexpression of the bax gene resulted in a decreased growth rate (average doubling time of 32.96 hours compared with 22.49 hours for untransfected C6, and 23.11 hours for clones transfected with pcDNA3 only), which may be caused, in part, by an increased rate of spontaneous apoptosis (0.77 ± 0.15% compared with 0.42 ± 0.08% for the vector-only transfected C6 cell line; p = 0.038, two-tailed Student's t-test). Treatment with 1 μM of cytosine arabinoside (ara-C) resulted in significantly more cells undergoing apoptosis in the cell line overexpressing bax than in the vector-only control cell line (23.57 ± 2.6% compared with 5.3 ± 0.7% terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated biotinylated-deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling technique-positive cells; p = 0.007). Furthermore, measurements of growth curves obtained immediately after treatment with 0.5 μM ara-C demonstrated a prolonged growth arrest of at least 6 days in the cell line overexpressing bax.

These results can be used collectively to argue that overexpression of bax results in increased sensitivity of C6 cells to ara-C and that increasing bax expression may be a useful strategy, in general, for increasing the sensitivity of gliomas to antineoplastic treatments.