bcl-2 and p53 gene products have been both linked to programmed cell death pathways. We have analyzed several human breast cancer cell lines for the expression of bcl-2 and p53. We found an inverse correlation between the expression of the two proteins. The result suggested that mutant p53 could substitute for bcl-2 function in breast cancer cells and that could also down-regulate bcl-2 expression. We found, indeed, that overexpression of a mutant p53 (mut 175) in MCF-7 cells could induce down-regulation of bcl-2 both at protein and mRNA level. However, the promoter region of the human bcl-2 gene does not contain the negative regulatory element responsible for the down-regulation. If this mechanism will be proved also for the wild-type p53 allele, it may disclose a possible mechanism for p53-induced apoptosis: down-regulation of bcl-2.


This work was supported by the Council for Tobacco Research, USA, Grant 3496 to S. H. and National Cancer Institute Grant CA 39860 to C. M. C.

This content is only available via PDF.