BOK promotes chemical-induced hepatocarcinogenesis in mice.

Rabachini de Almeida, Tatiana; Fernández Marrero, Yuniel; Montani, Matteo; Loforese, Giulio; Sladky, Valentina; He, Zhaoyue; Bachmann, Daniel; Wicki, Simone; Villunger, Andreas; Keogh-Stroka, Deborah M.; Kaufmann, Thomas (2018). BOK promotes chemical-induced hepatocarcinogenesis in mice. Cell death and differentiation, 25(4), pp. 706-718. Nature Publishing Group 10.1038/s41418-017-0008-0

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BCL-2-related ovarian killer (BOK) is a conserved and widely expressed BCL-2 family member with sequence homology to pro-apoptotic BAX and BAK, but with poorly understood pathophysiological function. Since several members of the BCL-2 family are critically involved in the regulation of hepatocellular apoptosis and carcinogenesis we aimed to establish whether loss of BOK affects diethylnitrosamine (DEN)-induced hepatocarcinogenesis in mice. Short-term exposure to DEN lead to upregulation of BOK mRNA and protein in the liver. Of note, induction of CHOP and the pro-apoptotic BH3-only proteins PUMA and BIM by DEN was strongly reduced in the absence of BOK. Accordingly, Bok -/- mice were significantly protected from DEN-induced acute hepatocellular apoptosis and associated inflammation. As a consequence, Bok -/- animals were partially protected against chemical-induced hepatocarcinogenesis showing fewer and, surprisingly, also smaller tumors than WT controls. Gene expression profiling revealed that downregulation of BOK results in upregulation of genes involved in cell cycle arrest. Bok -/- hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) displayed higher expression levels of the cyclin kinase inhibitors p19INK4d and p21cip1. Accordingly, hepatocellular carcinoma in Bok -/- animals, BOK-deficient human HCC cell lines, as well as non-transformed cells, showed significantly less proliferation than BOK-proficient controls. We conclude that BOK is induced by DEN, contributes to DEN-induced hepatocellular apoptosis and resulting hepatocarcinogenesis. In line with its previously reported predominant localization at the endoplasmic reticulum, our findings support a role of BOK that links the cell cycle and cell death machineries upstream of mitochondrial damage.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > BioMedical Research (DBMR) > DBMR Forschung Mu35 > Forschungsgruppe Viszeralchirurgie
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > BioMedical Research (DBMR) > DBMR Forschung Mu35 > Forschungsgruppe Viszeralchirurgie

04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Gastro-intestinal, Liver and Lung Disorders (DMLL) > Clinic of Visceral Surgery and Medicine > Visceral Surgery
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Pharmacology

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Rabachini de Almeida, Tatiana, Fernández Marrero, Yuniel, Loforese, Giulio, He, Zhaoyue (A), Bachmann, Daniel, Wicki, Simone, Stroka, Deborah, Kaufmann, Thomas (B)


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Nature Publishing Group




Jana Berger

Date Deposited:

16 Jan 2018 08:41

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2023 23:35

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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