Recent work suggests that apoptosis is disrupted during the progression of many solid tumors. Isogenic metastatic colon adenocarcinoma cells displayed significantly higher levels of staurosporine-induced apoptosis compared to their nonmetastatic counterparts in vitro. In addition, analysis of 15 matched primary tumors and liver metastases demonstrated that the levels of apoptosis were significantly higher in the metastases, and this increased cell death was associated with significantly lower levels of Bcl-2 protein expression. Our data demonstrate that the molecular events associated with acquisition of the metastatic phenotype sensitize colon cancer cells to some pro-apoptotic stimuli.
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