Human promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells treated with 8-chloro-adenosine-3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate (8-Cl-cAMP) undergo growth arrest and subsequently die by apoptosis. We describe here the isolation of a variant of HL-60 cells, HCW-2, which was resistant to the cytotoxic effects of 8-Cl-cAMP, but still underwent growth arrest. Thus, HCW-2 cells appeared to be altered in their ability to undergo apoptosis. HCW-2 cells were also completely refractory to the apoptotic action of cycloheximide and staurosporine, two compounds which were very potent inducers of apoptosis in the parental HL-60 cells, suggesting that the resistance to apoptosis was not unique to 8-Cl-cAMP. Western blot analysis demonstrated that the parental HL-60 cells expressed both Bcl-2 and Bax, two factors known to be intimately involved in the control of apoptosis. Surprisingly, HCW-2 cells no longer expressed Bcl-2 protein and paradoxically contained Bax protein at a level that was approximately 50-fold higher than in HL-60 cells. However, Northern and Western analyses indicated that the apoptotic suppressor gene, bcl-xL, which is not expressed in the parental HL-60 cells, was expressed in HCW-2 cells. Thus, the Bcl-2-independent resistance of HCW-2 cells to apoptotic induction is discussed in terms of the expression of bcl-xL.


This work was supported by resources provided by Brown University and The Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research. E. A. H. is a Leukemia Society of American Scholar.

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