Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Free Radical and Radiation Biology
C. Michael Knudson
Bcl-2 family members are important regulators of apoptosis, and their tampered expression is often involved in oncogenesis. Of particular importance are the levels of Bcl-2 family members in forming lymphomas. We studied two groups of murine thymic T cell lymphomas derived from either Bcl-2 or Bax overexpression in order to predict their sensitivity and resistance to treatments. While the growth rate and histological characteristics were similar for both lymphoma groups, Bax-derived lymphomas failed to undergo cell cycle arrest following radiation treatment and had frequent p53 mutations. In contrast, Bcl-2-derived lymphomas often halted proliferation following radiation delivery and rarely had p53 mutations. Bax-derived lymphomas were uniformly sensitive to treatment with 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2DG) while all Bcl-2-derived lymphomas were resistant. This led us to hypothesize that the Bcl-2 family is involved in 2DG-induced cell death. Focusing on the mechanism of 2DG toxicity in Bax-derived lymphomas, our studies demonstrate the following: cell death involved the activation of proapoptotic Bax, was effectively blocked by anti-apoptotic Bcl-2, and was mediated, at least in part, by the BH3-only family member Bim. Based on these results, we explored whether a BH3 mimetic (ABT-737) could sensitize lymphomas to 2DG killing. Indeed, a combination of ABT-737 with 2DG enhanced killing in Bax-derived lymphomas and resensitized Bcl-2-overexpressing lymphomas to 2DG. Since both 2DG and BH3 mimetics are currently in clinical trials, understanding their killing mechanisms and optimal combinations are of potential clinical significance. The work in this dissertation demonstrates a novel role of Bcl-2 family member proteins in regulating 2DG toxicity and may predict response to 2DG treatment. The information found presents a new strategy of combining 2DG with BH3 mimetics to improve existing lymphoma therapies.
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Copyright 2011 Oksana Zagorodna