Disruption of the inhibitor of apoptosis protein survivin sensitizes Bcr-abl-positive cells to STI571-induced apoptosis

Zhanxiang Wang, Janardhan Sampath, Seiji Fukuda, Louis M. Pelus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Scopus citations


The Bcr-abl oncogene induces hematopoietic cell transformation and protects cells from apoptosis; however, the mechanisms whereby Bcr-abl blocks apoptosis are poorly defined. We examined whether the inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) family, in particular survivin, are regulated by Bcr-abl. Overexpression of Bcr-abl in Mo7e or BaF3 hematopoietic cells elevated survivin mRNA and protein concomitant with a 4-fold increase in survivin promoter activity. The region of the survivin promoter responding to Bcr-abl was narrowed down to a 116 bp fragment between nucleotides -1,194 and -1,078. The IAP family member IAP-like protein-2 was also up-regulated by Bcr-abl. Disruption of Bcr-abl in Bcr-abl-transduced BaFS cells by small interfering RNA resulted in 3- to 4-fold reduction in survivin protein confirming the link between Bcr-abl and survivin. Survivin disruption in Bcr-abl-transduced Mo7e cells, or in K562 cells that endogenously express Bcr-abl, by transfection with dominant-negative or antisense survivin constructs promoted apoptosis induced by the Bcr-abl tyrosine kinase inhibitor STI571, which was accompanied by caspase-dependent cleavage of Bcr-abl, mitochondrial membrane potential disruption, and enhanced mitochondrial cytochrome c release. Although ectopic survivin protected K562 cells from apoptosis induced by STI571, it did not protect cells from apoptosis induced either by tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) or the combination of TRAIL plus Hemin. Our results identify a new signal pathway downstream of Bcr-abl, in addition to the Bcl-2 family involved in the antiapoptotic effects of Bcr-abl, and suggest that anti-survivin therapy may have utility in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8224-8232
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Research
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 15 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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