A synergistic interaction of Bcl-2 and c-Myc plays a role in lymphomagenesis in mice and in some patients as well. Progression of follicular lymphoma to a more aggressive lymphoma is seen in the majority of patients, and approximately 10% of the transformed lymphomas have a translocation of c-myc in addition to the translocation of bcl-2 found in the original follicular lymphoma. We investigated whether transcriptional deregulation of bcl-2 and c-myc could be examined in primary lymphoma cells by in vivo footprinting and in vitro protein-DNA binding studies. A matched pair of follicular and transformed lymphoma samples was examined. The transformed lymphoma had acquired a translocation of c-myc into the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus. High levels of bcl-2 expression were observed in both the follicular and transformed lymphomas, whereas the expression of c-myc was low in the follicular lymphoma and increased in the transformed lymphoma. In vivo footprint analysis revealed that a CRE site and a Cdx site in the bcl-2 promoter were occupied on the translocated alleles but not on the normal alleles in both the follicular and transformed lymphomas. Two nuclear factor kappaB sites were occupied on the translocated c-myc allele in the transformed lymphoma. Gel shift analysis revealed that these proteins bound to their respective sites in the bcl-2 or c-myc promoter. There was no evidence that the presence of one of the translocations in the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus influenced the expression of the other translocated gene.
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