Expression and functional analysis of Bax inhibitor-1 in human breast cancer cells

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Recently, deregulated expression of the anti-apoptotic protein Bax inhibitor-1 (BI-1) has been shown in several human cancers. In this report, we show that BI-1 is expressed at various levels in six different human breast cancer cell lines. In order to investigate the function of BI-1 in oestrogen-dependent MCF-7, T-47D and oestrogen-independent MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, the RNA interference technique was used to knock downBI-1expression specifically. Suppression of BI-1 expression caused a significant increase in spontaneous apoptosis in MDA-MB-231 cells, whereas MCF-7 and T-47D cells remained almost unaffected. Furthermore, BI-1 expression analysis using a cancer profiling array showed up-regulation ofBI-1expression in cancer samples of breast, uterus and ovary, whereas down-regulatedBI-1expression was identified in stomach, colon, kidney, lung and rectal cancer. In addition, immunohistochemical studies using a BI-1-specific antibody on human breast cancer specimens also revealed that BI-1 is expressed in the majority of cases. Moreover, to analyse whether BI-1 expression is oestrogen receptor-dependent, tumour cells were treated with oestradiol, ICI and tamoxifen: this showed no significant changes in BI-1 expression. Taken together, our results demonstrate that BI-1 expression is differentially deregulated in different cancers and that BI-1 plays an important role in preventing certain breast cancer cells from undergoing apoptosis. Thus, the development of novel therapeutic strategies based on targeting BI-1 gene expression in breast cancer could be restricted to selected individual cancer types. Copyright © 2005 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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