WT1 induces apoptosis through transcriptional regulation of the proapoptotic Bcl-2 family member Bak

Debra J. Morrison, Milton A. English, Jonathan D. Licht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations

Abstract

Wilms' tumor or nephroblastoma is believed to arise from embryonic nephrogenic rests of multipotent cells that fail to terminally differentiate into epithelium and continue to proliferate. The WT1 tumor suppressor gene, a transcription factor controlling the mesenchymal-epithelial transition in renal development, is mutated in 10% to 15% of Wilms' tumors. This potentially explains the disordered differentiation and proliferation program of a subset of Wilms' tumors. To elucidate the role of mutations of WT1 in the etiology of Wilms' tumor, we used an inducible cellular system for expressing wild-type and tumor-derived missense mutant WT1 proteins. Expression of wild-type WT1, but not mutant proteins, blocked cellular proliferation and DNA synthesis and rapidly induced apoptosis. We showed that wild-type WT1 induced transcription of one of the seven studied proapoptotic genes, Bak. Furthermore, WT1 protein bound to specific DNA-binding sites located in the Bak promoter and Bak was critical to WT1-mediated apoptosis, as overexpression of VDAC2, a specific Bak inhibitor, attenuated WT1-mediated cell death. These data support the hypothesis that Wilms' tumors arise, in part, because WT1 mutant proteins fail to promote programmed cell death during kidney development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8174-8182
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Research
Volume65
Issue number18
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2005

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