Mechanisms of Action of Bcl-2 Family Proteins
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The Bcl-2 family of proteins controls a critical step in commitment to apoptosis by regulating permeabilization of the mitochondrial outer membrane (MOM). The family is divided into three classes: multiregion proapoptotic proteins that directly permeabilize the MOM; BH3 proteins that directly or indirectly activate the pore-forming class members; and the antiapoptotic proteins that inhibit this process at several steps. Different experimental approaches have led to several models, each proposed to explain the interactions between Bcl-2 family proteins. The discovery that many of these interactions occur at or in membranes as well as in the cytoplasm, and are governed by the concentrations and relative binding affinities of the proteins, provides a new basis for rationalizing these models. Furthermore, these dynamic interactions cause conformational changes in the Bcl-2 proteins that modulate their apoptotic function, providing additional potential modes of regulation.
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