Induction of apoptosis by selective BH3-mimetics is currently investigated as a novel strategy for cancer treatment. Here, we report that selective BH3-mimetics induce apoptosis in a variety of hematological malignancies. Apoptosis is accompanied by severe mitochondrial toxicities upstream of caspase activation. Specifically, the selective BH3-mimetics ABT-199, A-1331852 and S63845, which target BCL-2, BCL-XL and MCL-1, respectively, induce comparable ultrastructural changes including mitochondrial swelling, a decrease of mitochondrial matrix density and severe loss of cristae structure. These shared effects on mitochondrial morphology indicate a similar function of these anti-apoptotic BCL-2 proteins in maintaining mitochondrial integrity and function.
Keywords: BCL-2 proteins; BH3-mimetics; apoptosis; mitochondria.