bcl-w, a novel member of the bcl-2 family, promotes cell survival

Leonie Gibson, Shaun P. Holmgreen, David C.S. Huang, Ora Bernard, Neal G. Copeland, Nancy A. Jenkins, Grant R. Sutherland, Elizabeth Baker, Jerry M. Adams, Suzanne Cory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

259 Scopus citations


The prototypic mammalian regulator of cell death is bcl-2, the oncogene implicated in the development of human follicular lymphoma. Several homologues of bcl-2 are now known. Using a PCR-based strategy we cloned a novel member of this gene family, denoted bcl-w. The gene, which is highly conserved between mouse and human, resides near the T-cell antigen receptor a gene within the central portion of mouse chromosome 14 and on human chromosome 14 at band q11. Enforced expression of bcl-w rendered lymphoid and myeloid cells refractory to several (but not all) cytotoxic conditions. Thus, like Bcl-2 and Bcl-x, the Bcl-w protein promotes cell survival, in contrast to other close homologues, Bar and Bak, which facilitate cell death. Comparison of the expected amino acid sequence of Bcl-w with that of these relatives helps to delineate residues likely to convey survival or anti-survival function. While expression of bcl-w was uncommon in B or T lymphoid cell lines, the mRNA was observed in almost all murine myeloid cell lines analysed and in a wide range of tissues. These findings suggest that bcl-w participates in the control of apoptosis in multiple cell types. Its functional similarity to bcl-2 also makes it an attractive candidate proto-oncogene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-675
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 30 1996


  • Apoptosis
  • bcl-2
  • bcl-w
  • Chromosome 14
  • Oncogene
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research
  • Genetics


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