Suppression of apoptosis in hematopoietic factor-dependent progenitor cell lines by expression of the FAC gene

Blood. 1996 Dec 15;88(12):4558-67.


Fanconi anemia (FA) is a genetically heterogeneous, inherited blood disorder characterized by bone marrow failure, congenital malformations, and a predisposition to leukemias. Because FA cells are hypersensitive to DNA cross-linking agents and have chromosomal instability, FA has been viewed as a disorder of DNA repair. However, the exact cellular defect in FA cells has not been identified. Sequence analysis of the gene defective in group C patients (FAC) has shown no significant homologies to other known genes. The FAC protein has been localized to the cytoplasm, indicating that FAC may either play an indirect role in DNA repair or is involved in a different cellular pathway. Recent evidence has indicated that FA cells may be predisposed to apoptosis, especially after treatment with DNA cross-linking agents. The demonstration that genes can suppress apoptosis has been accomplished by overexpression of such genes in growth factor-dependent cell lines that die by apoptosis after factor withdrawal. Using retroviral-mediated gene transfer, we present evidence that expression of FAC in the hematopoietic factor-dependent progenitor cell lines 32D and MO7e can suppress apoptosis induced by growth factor withdrawal. Flow cytometry and morphologic analysis of propidium iodide stained cells showed significantly lower levels of apoptosis in FAC-retroviral transduced cells after growth factor deprivation. Expression of FAC in both cell lines promoted increased viability rather than proliferation, which is consistent with other apoptosis-inhibiting genes such as Bcl-2. These findings imply that FAC may act as a mediator of an apoptotic pathway initiated by growth factor withdrawal. Furthermore, the congenital malformations and hematologic abnormalities characterizing FA may be related to an increased predisposition of FA progenitor cells to undergo apoptosis, particularly in the absence of extracellular signals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / genetics*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Fanconi Anemia Complementation Group C Protein
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Leukemic
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / pharmacology
  • Hematopoietic Cell Growth Factors / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-3 / pharmacology
  • Leukemia, Megakaryoblastic, Acute / genetics
  • Leukemia, Megakaryoblastic, Acute / pathology
  • Mice
  • Proteins / genetics*
  • Retroviridae / genetics
  • Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • FANCC protein, human
  • Fanconi Anemia Complementation Group C Protein
  • Hematopoietic Cell Growth Factors
  • Interleukin-3
  • Proteins
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor