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EMBO J. 1999 May 4;18(9):2330-41.

Conformation of the Bax C-terminus regulates subcellular location and cell death.

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  • 1Biochemistry Section, Surgical Neurology Branch, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Bax, a pro-apoptotic member of the Bcl-2 family, translocates from the cytosol to the mitochondria during programmed cell death. We report here that both gain-of-function and loss-of-function mutations can be achieved by altering a single amino acid in the Bax hydrophobic C-terminus. The properly mutated C-terminus of Bax can target a non-relevant protein to the mitochondria, showing that specific conformations of this domain alone allow mitochondrial docking. These data along with N-terminus epitope exposure experiments suggest that the C- and the N-termini interact and that upon triggering of apoptosis, Bax changes conformation, exposing these two domains to insert into the mitochondria and regulate the cell death machinery.

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