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Cancer Res. 2009 Sep 1;69(17):6782-9. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-0128. Epub 2009 Aug 25.

Identification of a protein, G0S2, that lacks Bcl-2 homology domains and interacts with and antagonizes Bcl-2.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Programs in Gene Function and Expression and Molecular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts 01605, USA.


The Bcl-2 family of proteins consists of both antiapoptotic and proapoptotic factors, which share sequence homology within conserved regions known as Bcl-2 homology domains. Interactions between Bcl-2 family members, as well as with other proteins, regulate apoptosis through control of mitochondrial membrane permeability and release of cytochrome c. Here we identify a novel regulator of apoptosis that lacks Bcl-2 homology domains but acts by binding Bcl-2 and modulating its antiapoptotic activity. To identify regulators of apoptosis, we performed expression profiling in human primary fibroblasts treated with tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), a potent inflammatory cytokine that can regulate apoptosis and functions, at least in part, by inducing expression of specific genes through NF-kappaB. We found that the gene undergoing maximal transcriptional induction following TNF-alpha treatment was G(0)-G(1) switch gene 2 (G0S2), the activation of which also required NF-kappaB. We show that G0S2 encodes a mitochondrial protein that specifically interacts with Bcl-2 and promotes apoptosis by preventing the formation of protective Bcl-2/Bax heterodimers. We further show that ectopic expression of G0S2 induces apoptosis in diverse human cancer cell lines in which endogenous G0S2 is normally epigenetically silenced. Our results reveal a novel proapoptotic factor that is induced by TNF-alpha through NF-kappaB and that interacts with and antagonizes Bcl-2.

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