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BMC Dev Biol 2005 Sep 26;5:20. doi: 10.1186/1471-213X-5-20.
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The roles of Bcl-xL in modulating apoptosis during development of Xenopus laevis.

Johnston J , Chan R , Calderon-Segura M , McFarlane S , Browder LW .

BACKGROUND: Apoptosis is a common and essential aspect of development. It is particularly prevalent in the central nervous system and during remodelling processes such as formation of the digits and in amphibian metamorphosis. Apoptosis, which is dependent upon a balance between pro- and anti-apoptotic factors, also enables the embryo to rid itself of cells damaged by gamma irradiation. In this study, the roles of the anti-apoptotic factor Bcl-xL in protecting cells from apoptosis were examined in Xenopus laevis embryos using transgenesis to overexpress the XR11 gene, which encodes Bcl-xL. The effects on developmental, thyroid hormone-induced and gamma-radiation-induced apoptosis in embryos were examined in these transgenic animals. RESULTS: Apoptosis was abrogated in XR11 transgenic embryos. However, the transgene did not prevent the apoptotic response of tadpoles to thyroid hormone during metamorphosis. Post-metamorphic XR11 frogs were reared to sexual maturity, thus allowing us to produce second-generation embryos and enabling us to distinguish between the maternal and zygotic contributions of Bcl-xL to the gamma-radiation apoptotic response. Wild-type embryos irradiated before the mid-blastula transition (MBT) underwent normal cell division until reaching the MBT, after which they underwent massive, catastrophic apoptosis. Over-expression of Bcl-xL derived from XR11 females, but not males, provided partial protection from apoptosis. Maternal expression of XR11 was also sufficient to abrogate apoptosis triggered by post-MBT gamma-radiation. Tolerance to post-MBT gamma-radiation from zygotically-derived XR11 was acquired gradually after the MBT in spite of abundant XR11 protein synthesis. CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that Bcl-xL is an effective counterbalance to proapoptotic factors during embryonic development but has no apparent effect on the thyroid hormone-induced apoptosis that occurs during metamorphosis. Furthermore, post-MBT apoptosis triggered by irradiation before the MBT could only be restrained by maternal expression of Bcl-xL. Although maternal expression of XR11 was sufficient to abrogate apoptosis triggered by post-MBT gamma-radiation, radiation tolerance from zygotically-derived XR11 was acquired gradually, indicating that synthesis of XR11 protein is not sufficient to prevent apoptosis. Thus, repression of radiation-induced apoptosis by overexpression of Bcl-xL during embryonic development depends upon the timing of its expression and post-translational events that enable the protein to become effective.

PubMed ID: 16185362
PMC ID: PMC1262703
Article link: BMC Dev Biol

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: bcl2l1 eef1a2
Antibodies: Bcl2l1 Ab1

Article Images: [+] show captions
References [+] :
Adams, Life-or-death decisions by the Bcl-2 protein family. 2001, Pubmed