High levels of c-rel expression are associated with programmed cell death in the developing avian embryo and in bone marrow cells in vitro

Cell. 1993 Dec 3;75(5):899-912. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(93)90534-w.


To determine the physiological processes in which the transcription factor c-Rel may act, we have examined its pattern of expression in the avian embryo by in situ hybridization. These studies showed that c-rel is expressed ubiquitously at low levels and at high levels in isolated cells undergoing programmed cell death by apoptosis or autophagocytosis. To further establish a functional link between expression of c-rel and cell death, we examined the biological consequences of c-rel overexpression in vitro. In primary avian fibroblasts, overexpression of c-rel leads to transformation and dramatic life span extension. In contrast, bone marrow cells expressing high levels of c-rel undergo a process of programmed cell death displaying features of both apoptosis and autophagocytic cell death. Thus, these experiments suggest a critical role for c-rel not only in the control of cell proliferation, but also in the induction of cell death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Bone Marrow Cells*
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • DNA Damage
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Gene Expression
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-rel
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics


  • Chromatin
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-rel
  • RNA, Messenger