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J Biol Chem. 2004 Oct 1;279(40):42240-9. Epub 2004 Jul 1.

BAD is a pro-survival factor prior to activation of its pro-apoptotic function.

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  • 1W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD21205, USA.


The mammalian BAD protein belongs to the BH3-only subgroup of the BCL-2 family. In contrast to its known pro-apoptotic function, we found that endogenous and overexpressed BAD(L) can inhibit cell death in neurons and other cell types. Several mechanisms regulate the conversion of BAD from an anti-death to a pro-death factor, including alternative splicing that produces the N-terminally truncated BAD(S). In addition, caspases convert BAD(L) into a pro-death fragment that resembles the short splice variant. The caspase site that is selectively cleaved during cell death following growth factor (interleukin-3) withdrawal is conserved between human and murine BAD. A second cleavage site that is required for murine BAD to promote death following Sindbis virus infection, gamma-irradiation, and staurosporine treatment is not conserved in human BAD, consistent with the inability of human BAD to promote death with these stimuli. However, loss of the BAD N terminus by any mechanism is not always sufficient to activate its pro-death activity, suggesting that the N terminus is a regulatory domain rather than an anti-death domain. These findings suggest that BAD is more than an inert death factor in healthy cells; it is also a pro-survival factor, prior to its role in promoting cell death.

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