Bcl-2-mediated drug resistance: Inhibition of apoptosis by blocking nuclear factor of activated T lymphocytes (NFAT)-induced fas ligand transcription

Rakesh K. Srivastava, Carl Y. Sasaki, J. Marie Hardwick, Dan L. Longo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


Bcl-2 inhibits apoptosis induced by a variety of stimuli, including chemotherapy drugs and glucocorticoids. It is generally accepted that Bcl-2 exerts its antiapoptotic effects mainly by dimerizing with proapoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family such as Bax and Bad. However, the mechanism of the antiapoptotic effects is unclear. Paclitaxel and other drugs that disturb microtubule dynamics kill cells in a Fas/Fas ligand (FasL)-dependent manner; antibody to FasL inhibits paclitaxel-induced apoptosis. We have found that Bcl-2 overexpression leads to the prevention of chemotherapy (paclitaxel)- induced expression of FasL and blocks paclitaxel-induced apoptosis. The mechanism of this effect is that Bcl-2 prevents the nuclear translocation of NFAT (nuclear factor of activated T lymphocytes, a transcription factor activated by microtubule damage) by binding and sequestering calcineurin, a calcium-dependent phosphatase that must dephosphorylate NFAT to move to the nucleus. Without NFAT nuclear translocation, the FasL gene is not transcribed. Thus, it appears that paclitaxel and other drugs that disturb microtubule function kill cells at least in part through the induction of FasL. Furthermore, Bcl-2 antagonizes drug-induced apoptosis by inhibiting calcineunn activation, blocking NFAT nuclear translocation, and preventing FasL expression. The effects of Bcl-2 can be overcome, at least partially, through phosphorylation of Bcl-2. Phosphorylated Bcl-2 cannot bind calcineurin, and NFAT activation, FasL expression, and apoptosis can occur after Bcl-2 phosphorylation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-265
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 19 1999


  • Apoptosis
  • Bcl-2
  • Fas ligand
  • NFAT
  • Paclitaxel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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