Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 295–298

Neuronal Apoptosis: BH3-Only Proteins the Real Killers?

  • Manus W. Ward
  • Donat Kögel
  • Jochen H. M. Prehn


At present there is a poor understanding of the events that lead up to neuronal apoptosis that occurs in neurodegenerative diseases and following acute ischemic episodes. Apoptosis is critical for the elimination of unwanted neurons within the developing nervous system. The Bcl-2 family of proteins contains pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins that regulate the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis. There is increasing interest in a subfamily of the Bcl-2 family, the BH3-only proteins, and their pro-apoptotic effects within neurons. Recently ischemic and seizure-induced neuronal injury has been shown to result in the activation of the BH3-only protein, Bid. This protein is cleaved and the truncated protein (tBid) translocates to the mitochondria. The translocation of tBid to the mitochondria is associated with the activation of outer mitochondrial membrane proteins Bax/Bak and the release of cytochrome C from the mitochondria. ER stress also has been implicated as a factor for the induction of apoptosis in ischemic neuronal injury. The induction of ER stress in hippocampal neurons has been shown to activate expression of bb3/PUMA, a member of the BH3-only gene family. Activation of PUMA is associated with the activation and clustering of the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family member Bax and the loss of cytochrome C from the mitochondria.

BH3-only proteins ischemia ER stress Bcl-2 family proteins mitochondria apoptosis necrosis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manus W. Ward
    • 1
  • Donat Kögel
    • 2
  • Jochen H. M. Prehn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyRoyal College of SurgeonsGreen, Dublin 2Ireland
  2. 2.Experimental NeurosurgeryJohann Wolfgang Goethe University ClinicsFrankfurtGermany

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