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Structure—Function Analysis of Bcl-2 Family Proteins

Regulators of Programmed Cell Death
  • John C. Reed
  • Hongbin Zha
  • Christine Aime-Sempe
  • Shinichi Takayama
  • Hong-Gang Wang
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 406)

Abstract

The Bcl-2 protein blocks a distal step in an evolutionarily conserved pathway for programmed cell death and apoptosis. To gain better understanding of how this protein functions, we have undertaken a structure-function analysis of this protein, focusing on domains within Bcl-2 that are required for function and for interactions with other proteins. Four conserved domains are present in Bcl-2 and several of its homologs: BH1 (residues 136–155), BH2 (187–202), BH3 (93–107) and BH4 (10–30). Deletion of the BH1, BH2, or BH4 domains of Bcl-2 abolishes its ability to suppress cell death in mammalian cells and prevents homodimerization of these mutant proteins, though these mutants can still bind to the wild-type Bcl-2 protein. These mutants also fail to bind to BAG-1 and Raf-1, two proteins that we have shown can associate with protein complexes containing Bcl-2 and which cooperate with Bcl-2 to suppress cell death. Deletion of either BH1 or BH2 nullifies the ability of Bcl-2 to: (a) suppress death in mammalian cells; (b) block Bax-induced lethality in yeast; and (c) heterodimerize with Bax. In contrast, deletion of the BH4 domain of Bcl-2 nullifies anti-apoptotic function and homodimerization, but does not impair binding to the pro-apoptotic protein Bax. Taken together, the data suggest the possibility that both Bcl-2/Bcl-2 homodimerization and Bcl-2/Bax heterodimerization are necessary but insufficient for the anti-apoptotic function of the Bcl-2 protein. Homodimerization of Bcl-2 with itself involves a head-to-tail interaction, in which an N-terminal domain where BH4 resides interacts with the more distal region of Bcl-2 where BH1, BH2, and BH3 are located. In contrast, Bcl-2/Bax heterodimerization involves a tail-to-tail interaction, that requires the portion of Bcl-2 where BH1, BH2, and BH3 reside and a central region in Bax where the BH3 domain is located. The BH3 domain of Bax is also required for Bax/Bax homodimerization and pro-apoptotic function in both yeast and mammalian cells. Thus, Bcl-2 may suppress cell death at least in part by binding to Bax via the BH3 domain and thereby preventing formation of Bax/Bax homodimers. Further studies however are required to delineate the full significance of Bcl-2/Bcl-2, Bcl-2/Bax, and Bax/Bax dimers and the biochemical mechanisms by which Bcl-2 family proteins ultimately control cell life and death.

Keywords

Programme Cell Death African Swine Fever Virus Promote Cell Death Autoimmune Lymphoproliferative Syndrome Suppress Cell Death 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • John C. Reed
    • 1
  • Hongbin Zha
    • 1
  • Christine Aime-Sempe
    • 1
  • Shinichi Takayama
    • 1
  • Hong-Gang Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.The La Jolla Cancer Research FoundationLa JollaUSA

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