Bcl-2 overexpression promotes myocyte proliferation

Federica Limana, Konrad Urbanek, Stefano Chimenti, Federico Quaini, Annarosa Leri, Jan Kajstura, Bernardo Nadal-Ginard, Seigo Izumo, Piero Anversa

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To determine the influence of Bcl-2 on the developmental biology of myocytes, we analyzed the population dynamics of this cell type in the heart of transgenic (TG) mice overexpressing Bcl-2 under the control of the α-myosin heavy chain promoter. TG mice and non-TG (wild type, WT) mice were studied at 24 days, 2 months, and 4 months after birth. Bcl-2 overexpression produced a significant increase in the percentage of cycling myocytes and their mitotic index. These effects were strictly connected to the expression of the transgene, as demonstrated in isolated myocytes. The formation of mitotic spindle and contractile ring was identified in replicating cells. These typical aspects of mitosis were complemented with the demonstration of karyokinesis and cytokinesis to provide structural evidence of cell division. Apoptosis was low at all ages and was not affected by Bcl-2. The higher cell replication rate in TG was conditioned by a decrease in the expression of the cell-cycle inhibitors, p21WAF1 and p16INK4a, and by an increase in Mdm2-p53 complexes. In comparison with WT, TG had 0.4 × 106, 0.74 × 106, and 1.2 × 106 more myocytes in the left ventricle at 24 days, 2 months, and 4 months, respectively. Binucleated myocytes were 12% and 25% larger in WT than in TG mice at 2 and 4 months of age. Taken together, these observations reveal a previously uncharacterized replication-enhancing function of Bcl-2 in myocytes in vivo in the absence of stressful conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6257-6262
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Apr 30 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


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