Mcl-1 and Bcl-xL regulate Bak/Bax-dependent apoptosis of the megakaryocytic lineage at multistages

Cell Death Differ. 2012 Nov;19(11):1856-69. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2012.88. Epub 2012 Jul 13.


Anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins, which inhibit the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis, are involved in the survival of various hematopoietic lineages and are often dysregulated in hematopoietic malignancies. However, their involvement in the megakaryocytic lineage is not well understood. In the present paper, we describe the crucial anti-apoptotic role of Mcl-1 and Bcl-xL in this lineage at multistages. The megakaryocytic lineage-specific deletion of both, in sharp contrast to only one of them, caused apoptotic loss of mature megakaryocytes in the fetal liver and systemic hemorrhage, leading to embryonic lethality. ABT-737, a Bcl-xL/Bcl-2/Bcl-w inhibitor, only caused thrombocytopenia in adult wild-type mice, but further induced massive mature megakaryocyte apoptosis in the Mcl-1 knockout mice, leading to severe hemorrhagic anemia. All these phenotypes were fully restored if Bak and Bax, downstream apoptosis executioners, were also deficient. In-vitro study revealed that the Jak pathway maintained Mcl-1 and Bcl-xL expression levels, preventing megakaryoblastic cell apoptosis. Similarly, both were involved in reticulated platelet survival, whereas platelet survival was dependent on Bcl-xL due to rapid proteasomal degradation of Mcl-1. In conclusion, Mcl-1 and Bcl-xL regulate the survival of the megakaryocytic lineage, which is critically important for preventing lethal or severe hemorrhage in both developing and adult mice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Biphenyl Compounds / pharmacology
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Lineage
  • Humans
  • Janus Kinases / metabolism
  • Megakaryocytes / drug effects
  • Megakaryocytes / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Myeloid Cell Leukemia Sequence 1 Protein
  • Nitrophenols / pharmacology
  • Piperazines / pharmacology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / deficiency
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sulfonamides / pharmacology
  • bcl-2 Homologous Antagonist-Killer Protein / metabolism*
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / metabolism*
  • bcl-X Protein / antagonists & inhibitors
  • bcl-X Protein / metabolism*


  • ABT-737
  • Biphenyl Compounds
  • Mcl1 protein, mouse
  • Myeloid Cell Leukemia Sequence 1 Protein
  • Nitrophenols
  • Piperazines
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Sulfonamides
  • bcl-2 Homologous Antagonist-Killer Protein
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • bcl-X Protein
  • Janus Kinases