Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Letter
  • Published:

Bcl-2 gene promotes haemopoietic cell survival and cooperates with c-myc to immortalize pre-B cells


A common feature of follicular lymphoma, the most prevalent haematological malignancy in humans, is a chromosome translocation (t(14;18)) that has coupled the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus to a chromosome 18 gene denoted bcl-2 (refs 1–6). By analogy with the translocated c-myc oncogene in other B-lymphoid tumours (reviewed in ref. 7), bcl-2 is a candidate oncogene, but no biological effects of bcl-2 have yet been reported. To test whether bcl-2 influences the growth of haematopoietic cells, either alone or together with a deregulated c-myc gene, we have introduced a human bcl-2 complementary DNA (ref. 3) using a retroviral vector into bone marrow cells from either normal or Eµ-myc transgenic mice, in which B-lineage cells constitutively express the c-myc gene8–10. Bcl-2 cooperated with c-myc to promote proliferation of B-cell precursors, some of which became tumorigenic. To determine how bcl-2 expression impinges on growth factor requirements, the gene was introduced into a lymphoid and a myeloid cell line that require interleukin 3 (IL-3) (refs 11 and 12). In the absence of IL-3, bcl-2 promoted the survival of the infected cells but they persisted in a G0 state, rather than proliferating. These results argue that bcl-2 provided a distinct survival signal to the cell and may contribute to neoplasia by allowing a clone to persist until other oncogenes, such as c-myc, become activated.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Tsujimoto, Y., Cossman, J., Jafle, E. & Croce, C. M. Science 226, 1097–1099 (1984).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Bakhshi, A. et al. Cell 41, 899–906 (1985).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Cleary, M. Smith, S. D. & Sklar, J. Cell 47, 19–28 (1986).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Seto, M et al. EMBO J. 7, 123–131 (1987).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Tsujimoto, Y., Ikegaki, N. & Croce, C. M. Oncogene 2, 3–7 (1987).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Graninger, W. B., Seto, M., Boutain, B., Goldman, P. & Korsmeyer, S. J. J. clin. Invest. 80, 1512–1515 (1987).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Cory, S. in Advances in Cancer Research Vol. 47 (eds Klein, G. & Weinhouse, S.) 189–234 (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Orlando, 1986).

    Google Scholar 

  8. Adams, J. M. et al. Nature 318, 533–538 (1985).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Langdon, W. Y., Harris, A. W., Cory, S. & Adams, J. M. Cell 47, 11–18 (1986).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Alexander, W. S., Schrader, J. W. & Adams, J. M. Molec. cell. Biol. 7, 1436–1444 (1987).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Palacios, R., Karasuyama, H. & Rolnick, A. EMBO J. 6, 3687–3693 (1987).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Dexter, T. M., Garland, J., Scott, D., Scolnick, E. & Metcalf, D. J. exp. Med. 152, 1036–1047 (1980).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Hariharan, I. K., Adams, J. M. & Cory, S. Oncogene Res. (in the press).

  14. Mann, R., Mulligan, R. C. & Baltimore, D. Cell 33, 153–159 (1983).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Whitlock, C. A., Tidmarsh, G. F., Muller-Sieberg, C. & Weissmann, I. L. Cell 48, 1009–1021 (1987).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Cory, S., Bernard, O., Bowtell, D., Schrader, S. & Schrader, J. W. Oncogene Res. 1, 61–76 (1987).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Cook, W. D., Metcalf, D., Nicola, N. A., Burgess, A. W. & Walker, F. Cell 41, 677–683 (1985).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Metcalf, D., Roberts, T. M., Cherington, V. & Dunn, A. R. EMBO J. 6, 3703–3709 (1987).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Wheeler, E. F., Askew, D., Day, D., Ihle, J. N. & Sher, C. J. Molec. cell. Biol. 7, 1673–1680 (1987).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Whetton, A. D., Heyworth, C. M. & Dexter, T. M. J. Cell. Sci. 84, 93–104 (1986).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Whetton, A. D. & Dexter, T. M. Nature 303, 629–632 (1983).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. Jaffe, E. S. J. natn. Cancer Inst. 70, 401–403 (1983).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. Freitas, A. A., Rocha, B., Forni, L. & Coutinho, A. J. Immun. 128, 54–60 (1982).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Gauwerky C. E., Hoxie, J., Nowell, P. C. & Croce, C. M. Oncogene 2, 431–435 (1988).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Cepko, C. L., Roberts, B. E. & Mulligan, R. C. Cell 37, 1053–1062 (1984).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Bowtell, D. D. L., Johnson, G. R., Kelso, A. & Cory, S. Molec. biol. Med. 4, 229–250 (1987).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. Korman, A., Frantz, D., Strominger, J. & Mulligan, R. C. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 84, 2150–2154 (1987).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Taylor, I. W. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 28, 1021–1024 (1980).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Dean, P. D. Cell Tissue Kinet. 13, 299–308 (1980).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Vaux, D., Cory, S. & Adams, J. Bcl-2 gene promotes haemopoietic cell survival and cooperates with c-myc to immortalize pre-B cells. Nature 335, 440–442 (1988).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing