Immunohistochemical expression of Bax and Bak in canine non-neoplastic tissues

Vet J. 2013 Oct;198(1):131-40. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2013.07.029. Epub 2013 Aug 26.


Apoptosis is critical for embryonic development, maintenance of tissue homeostasis and protection against malignant transformation. The Bcl-2 family of proteins plays a key role in intrinsic apoptosis by controlling the integrity of the outer mitochondrial membrane, and the multidomain pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members Bax and Bak are essential components of this pathway. The aim of this study was to provide data on the expression of these proteins in normal canine tissues. Two antibodies against Bax recognising different conformations of the protein and one antibody against Bak were validated by immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting using canine recombinant proteins and keratinocytes treated with ultraviolet light. The antibodies were used immunohistochemically to label a wide panel of histologically normal tissues assembled on tissue microarrays. In addition, a subset of the tissues was evaluated by Western blot analysis. Immunohistochemical and Western blot analyses revealed that both Bax and Bak are widely expressed in non-neoplastic tissues from adult dogs. Immunohistochemistry showed almost exclusively cytoplasmic labelling and prominent labelling of epithelial cells. In lymph nodes, immunohistochemical labelling was diffuse for both proteins and showed enhanced intensities in the mantle zones for Bax and the germinal centres for Bak. Strong reactivity for the active conformation of Bax was detected only in enterocytes and Leydig cells and in scattered lymphocytes. These data indicate widespread expression of Bax and Bak in normal canine tissues. Knowledge of the expression of Bax and Bak in normal tissues is a prerequisite in assessing the role of these proteins in canine neoplastic disease.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Bak; Bax; Dog; Immunohistochemistry; Western blot.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / metabolism
  • Apoptosis*
  • Blotting, Western / veterinary
  • Dogs / genetics
  • Dogs / metabolism
  • Dogs / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Immunohistochemistry / veterinary
  • Organ Specificity
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Tissue Array Analysis / veterinary
  • bcl-2 Homologous Antagonist-Killer Protein / genetics*
  • bcl-2 Homologous Antagonist-Killer Protein / metabolism
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / genetics*
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / metabolism


  • Antibodies
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • bcl-2 Homologous Antagonist-Killer Protein
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein