Involvement of microtubules in the regulation of Bcl2 phosphorylation and apoptosis through cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase

Mol Cell Biol. 1998 Jun;18(6):3509-17. doi: 10.1128/MCB.18.6.3509.


The Bcl2 family of proteins plays a significant role in regulation of apoptosis. In this study, the microtubule-damaging drugs paclitaxel, vincristine, and vinblastine induced Bcl2 hyperphosphorylation and apoptosis in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells and reduced Bcl2-Bax dimerization. Paclitaxel or vincristine induced increased expression of Bax, while overexpression of Bcl2 in these cell lines counteracted the effects of low doses of these drugs. In addition, paclitaxel- and vincristine-induced activation of cyclic AMP (cAMP)-dependent protein kinase (protein kinase A [PKA]) induced Bcl2 hyperphosphorylation and apoptosis, which were blocked by the PKA inhibitor Rp diastereomers of cAMP (Rp-cAMP). This finding suggests that activation of PKA due to microtubule damage is an important event in Bcl2 hyperphosphorylation and induction of apoptosis. These microtubule-damaging drugs caused growth arrest in G2-M phase of the cell cycle and had no effect on p53 induction, suggesting that hyperphosphorylation mediated inactivation of Bcl2 and apoptosis without the involvement of p53. By comparison, the DNA-damaging drugs methotrexate and doxorubicin had no effect on Bcl2 hyperphosphorylation but induced p53 expression. Interestingly, paclitaxel or vincristine induced activation of caspase 3 and cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase downstream of Bcl2 hyperphosphorylation. These data suggest that there may be a signaling cascade induced by agents that disrupt or damage the cytoskeleton that is distinct from (i.e., p53 independent), but perhaps related to (i.e., involves kinase activation and leads to apoptosis), the cellular response to DNA damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspases*
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • DNA Damage
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microtubules / drug effects
  • Microtubules / physiology*
  • Nocodazole / pharmacology
  • Paclitaxel / pharmacology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vincristine / pharmacology
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • BAX protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • Vincristine
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • CASP3 protein, human
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspases
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • Paclitaxel
  • Nocodazole