Dissection of functional domains in Bcl-2 by site-directed mutagenesis

Borner, C.; Olivier, R.; Martinou, I.; Mattmann, C.; Tschopp, J.; Martinou, J.-C.

Biochemistry and Cell Biology 72(11-12): 463-469


ISSN/ISBN: 0829-8211
DOI: 10.1139/o94-062
Accession: 067692231

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Bcl-2 alpha is a mitochondrial or perinuclear-associated oncoprotein that prolongs the life span of a variety of cell types by interfering with programmed cell death. How Bcl-2 confers cell survival is unknown, although antioxidant and antiprotease functions have been proposed. In addition, protein structures of Bcl-2 that are crucial for its survival activity are still ill-defined. Bcl-2 can occur as Bcl-2 alpha or Bcl-2 beta, two alternatively spliced forms which solely differ in their carboxyl termini. The finding that Bcl-2 alpha is active and membrane bound, but Bcl-2 beta is inactive and cytosolic, indicates that the carboxyl terminus contributes to the survival activity of Bcl-2. This region contains two subdomains, a domain X with unknown function and a hydrophobic stretch reported to mediate membrane association of Bcl-2 alpha. Recently Bcl-2-related proteins have been identified. These include Bax that heterodimerizes with Bcl-2 and, when overexpressed, counteracts Bcl-2. Bax contains two highly conserved regions of sequence homology with Bcl-2, referred to as Bcl-2 homology 1 and 2 (BH1 and BH2) domains. Site-directed mutagenesis studies have revealed that both domains are not only novel dimerization motifs for the interaction of Bax with Bcl-2 but also crucial for the survival activity of Bcl-2. Interestingly, the C-terminal end of BH2 encompasses the Bcl-2 alpha/beta splice site, as well as part of domain X in Bcl-2 alpha.