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The regulation of survival and cell death is a key determinant of cell fate. Recent evidence shows that survival and death machineries are regulated along the cell cycle. In the present paper, we show that BimEL [a BH3 (Bcl-2 homology 3)-only member of the Bcl-2 family of proteins; Bim is Bcl-2-interacting mediator of cell death; EL is the extra-long form] is phosphorylated in mitosis. This post-translational modification is dependent on MEK (mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular-signal-regulated kinase kinase) and growth factor signalling. Interestingly, FGF (fibroblast growth factor) signalling seems to play an essential role in this process, since, in the presence of serum, inhibition of FGF receptors abrogated phosphorylation of Bim in mitosis. Moreover, we have shown bFGF (basic FGF) to be sufficient to induce phosphorylation of Bim in serum-free conditions in any phase of the cell cycle, and also to significantly rescue cells from serum-deprivation-induced apoptosis. Our results show that, in mitosis, Bim is phosphorylated downstream of growth factor signalling in a MEK-dependent manner, with FGF signalling playing an important role. We suggest that phosphorylation of Bim is a decisive step for the survival of proliferating cells.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochem J

Publication Date





185 - 194


Animals, Apoptosis, Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins, Bcl-2-Like Protein 11, CDC2 Protein Kinase, Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases, Fibroblast Growth Factors, MAP Kinase Kinase Kinases, Membrane Proteins, Mice, Mitosis, NIH 3T3 Cells, Phosphorylation, Protein Processing, Post-Translational, Proto-Oncogene Proteins, Signal Transduction