Modulation of apoptosis-associated genes bcl-2, bcl-x, and bax during rat liver regeneration

Betsy T. Kren, Janeen H. Trembley, Stanislaw Krajewski, Timothy W. Behrens, John C. Reed, Clifford J. Steer

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66 Scopus citations

Abstract

Liver regeneration (LR) after 70% partial hepatectomy (PH) represents a unique in vivo model of cell cycle and gene regulation. This study was conducted to characterize apoptosis-associated gene expression during LR. The results indicated that transcripts for both bcl-x and bcl-2 exhibited similar patterns of expression during LR with peaks at 6 h post-PH. In contrast, the major 1.1-kb bax transcript exhibited peaks at 18 (P < 0.05) and 72 h (P < 0.001) post-PH. Nuclear run-on analyses for all three genes indicated no detectable transcription rate changes during LR. At 6 h post-PH, when bcl-x mRNA levels were increased by 25-fold (P < 0.001), bcl-x mRNA half-life was elevated 4-fold (P < 0.001). Similarly, bax transcript half-life increased from 2.8 h at 0 h to 4.3 h at 24 h (P < 0.001) and >8 h at 40 h (P < 0.001) post-PH, coincident with increases in steady-state levels of mRNA. Western blot analyses of Bcl-2 and Bcl-x proteins showed no significant change through 96 h of LR, whereas Bax protein levels cycled in parallel with its mRNA. Interestingly, novel Bax- and Bcl-2-crossreactive proteins of 31 and 32 kDa, respectively, were detected in nuclei isolated from quiescent liver. When liver growth was induced by the peroxisome proliferator clofibrate, transcript and protein levels were coupled for bcl-x but not for bax. In conclusion, the apoptosis-associated genes bcl-2, bcl-x and bax are modulated at the transcript and protein levels during LR, suggesting a role for these gene products in normal liver growth. The alterations in transcript levels occur posttranscriptionally and involve changes in mRNA stability. Furthermore, unlike bax, steady-state protein and transcript levels are uncoupled for both bcl-2 and bcl-x, suggesting a role for translational regulation during LR after PH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1633-1642
Number of pages10
JournalCell Growth and Differentiation
Volume7
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1996

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