Allosteric Regulation of BH3 Proteins in Bcl-xL Complexes Enables Switch-like Activation of Bax Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Current models of apoptosis regulation by the Bcl-2 family of proteins postulate that heterodimeric interactions between family members determine whether Bax and Bak are activated to trigger cell death. Thus, the relative abundance and binding affinities between pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins determines the outcome of these interactions. Examination of these interactions using purified mitochondria and liposomes with full-length recombinant proteins revealed that Bcl-xL inhibits apoptosis as a higher-order complex that binds multiple BH3 proteins. Allosteric regulation of this complex by the BH3 sensitizer Bad confers switch-like activity to the indirect activation of Bax. The BH3 activator cBid sequestered by Bcl-xL complexes changes from an inactive to an active form while bound to a Bcl-xL complex only when Bad is also bound. Bcl-xL complexes enable Bad to function as a non-competitive inhibitor of Bcl-xL and allosterically activate cBid, dramatically enhancing the pro-apoptotic potency of Bad.

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publication date

  • February 2020