Endoplasmic reticulum protein BIK binds to and inhibits mitochondria-localized antiapoptotic proteins
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The proapoptotic BCL-2 homology (BH3)-only endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-resident protein BCL-2 interacting killer (BIK) positively regulates mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization, the point of no return in apoptosis. It is generally accepted that BIK functions at a distance from mitochondria by binding and sequestering antiapoptotic proteins at the ER, thereby promoting ER calcium release. Although BIK is predominantly localized to the ER, we detect by fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy-FRET microscopy, BH3 region-dependent direct binding between BIK and mitochondria-localized chimeric mutants of the antiapoptotic proteins BCL-XL and BCL-2 in both baby mouse kidney (BMK) and MCF-7 cells. Direct binding was accompanied by cell type-specific differential relocalization in response to coexpression of either BIK or one of its target binding partners, BCL-XL, when coexpressed in cells. In BMK cells with genetic deletion of both BAX and BAK (BMK-double KO), our data suggest that a fraction of BIK protein moves toward mitochondria in response to the expression of a mitochondria-localized BCL-XL mutant. In contrast, in MCF-7 cells, our data suggest that BIK is localized at both ER and mitochondria-associated ER membranes and binds to the mitochondria-localized BCL-XL mutant via relocalization of BCL-XL to ER and mitochondria-associated ER membrane. Rather than functioning at a distance, our data suggest that BIK initiates mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization via direct interactions with ER and mitochondria-localized antiapoptotic proteins, which occur via ER-mitochondria contact sites, and/or by relocalization of either BIK or antiapoptotic proteins in cells.
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