ABT-737, a small molecule Bcl-2/Bcl-xL antagonist, increases antimitoticmediated apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells

Ricardo Parrondo, Alicia de las Pozas, Teresita Reiner, Carlos Perez-Stable

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) expresses high levels of the antiapoptotic proteins Bcl-2, Bcl-xL and Mcl-1, resulting in resistance to apoptosis and association with poor prognosis. Docetaxel, an antimitotic drug that is the first-line treatment strategy for CRPC, is known to provide a small survival benefit. However, docetaxel chemotherapy alone is not enough to counteract the high levels of Bcl-2/Bcl-xL/Mcl-1 present in CRPC. ABT-737 is a small molecule that binds to Bcl-2/Bcl-xL (but not Mcl-1) with high affinity and disrupts their interaction with pro-apoptotic Bax/Bak, thus enhancing apoptosis. Our results indicate that ABT-737 can sensitize androgen-dependent LNCaP and CRPC PC3 cells to docetaxel- and to the novel antimitotic ENMD-1198-mediated caspase-dependent apoptosis. CRPC DU145 cells, however, are more resistant to ABT-737 because they are Bax null and not because they express the highest levels of anti-apoptoticMcl-1 (associated with ABT-737 resistance). Knockdown of Bax or Bak in LNCaP indicates that ABT-737- induced antimitotic enhancement of apoptosis is more dependent on the levels of Bax than Bak. Furthermore, we find that the ability of docetaxel to increase cyclin B1/Cdk1-mediated phosphorylation of Bcl-2/Bcl-xL and decreaseMcl-1 is required for ABT-737 to enhance apoptosis in PC3 cells, as determined by addition of Cdk1 inhibitor purvalanol A and expression of shRNA specific for cyclin B1. Overall, our data suggests that the high levels of anti-apoptotic proteins in Bax-expressing CRPC cells can be overcome by targeting Bcl-2/Bcl-xL with ABT-737 andMcl-1 with antimitotics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere144
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • ABT-737
  • Antimitotic
  • Apoptosis
  • Bcl-2 family
  • Cyclin B1/Cdk1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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