Defining the active site of Bax

In the August 1st issue of G&D, scientists from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, led by Dr. Xu Luo, have identified the long-sought-after homo-oligomerization domain of Bax.

The researchers demonstrate that the homo-oligomerization domain is, in fact, responsible for Baxs apoptotic activity. Structural analysis revealed that a three-helix unit consisting of helix 2 from the BH3 domain, and helices 4 and 5 from the BH1 domain together form the homo-oligomerization domain. Dr. Luo and colleagues went on to show that this is the minimal domain required for the permeabilization of the mitochondrial membrane and the corresponding induction of apoptosis.

"How activated Bax (or Bak) causes mitochondrial damage remains one of the most fascinating and important questions in apoptosis research. Establishing the causal relationship between homo-oligomerization and apoptotic activity of Bax and the identification of the Bax homo-oligomerization domain represent one step forward towards answering that question," explains Dr. Luo.


Contact: Heather Cosel
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Page: 1

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