Bim and Bad mediate imatinib-induced killing of Bcr/Abl+ leukemic cells, and resistance due to their loss is overcome by a BH3 mimetic Academic Article uri icon


  • Cell killing is a critical pharmacological activity of imatinib to eradicate Bcr/Abl+ leukemias. We found that imatinib kills Bcr/Abl+ leukemic cells by triggering the Bcl-2-regulated apoptotic pathway. Imatinib activated several proapoptotic BH3-only proteins: bim and bmf transcription was increased, and both Bim and Bad were activated posttranslationally. Studies using RNAi and cells from gene-targeted mice revealed that Bim plays a major role in imatinib-induced apoptosis of Bcr/Abl+ leukemic cells and that the combined loss of Bim and Bad abrogates this killing. Loss of Bmf or Puma had no effect. Resistance to imatinib caused by Bcl-2 overexpression or loss of Bim (plus Bad) could be overcome by cotreatment with the BH3 mimetic ABT-737. These results demonstrate that Bim and Bad account for most, perhaps all, imatinib-induced killing of Bcr/Abl+ leukemic cells and suggest previously undescribed drug combination strategies for cancer therapy.


  • Kuroda, J
  • Puthalakath, H
  • Cragg, MS
  • Kelly, PN
  • Bouillet, P
  • Huang, DCS
  • Kimura, S
  • Ottmann, OG
  • Druker, BJ
  • Villunger, A
  • Roberts, AW
  • Strasser, A

publication date

  • October 3, 2006

has subject area