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Genes Dev. 1996 Feb 15;10(4):461-77.

The E1B 19K protein blocks apoptosis by interacting with and inhibiting the p53-inducible and death-promoting Bax protein.

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  • 1Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854 USA.


The E1B 19K protein is a potent apoptosis inhibitor and the putative adenovirus Bcl-2 homolog. To investigate the mechanism of apoptosis regulation, 19K-interacting cellular proteins were identified using the yeast two-hybrid system, and Bax was one of seven 19-K interacting clones. Residues 50-78 of Bax containing a conserved region designated Bcl-2 homology region 3 (BH3) were sufficient for specific binding to both the E1B 19K and Bcl-2 proteins. The Bax-E1B 19K interaction was detectable in vitro and in lysates from mammalian cells, and Bax expression antagonized E1B 19K protein function. bax mRNA and protein levels were p53-inducible with kinetics identical to that of p21/Waf-1/Cip-1, and E1B 19K and Bcl-2 expression did not affect Bax or p21/Waf-1/Cip-1 accumulation. In cells where p53 was mutant, Bax expression induced apoptosis, suggesting that Bax was sufficient for apoptosis, and acted downstream of p53. p53 may simultaneously activate the transcription of genes required for both growth arrest (p21/Waf-1/Cip-1) and death (bax), and E1B 19K and Bcl-2 may act distally and function through interaction with and antagonism of Bax to prevent apoptosis. With the death pathway disabled, induction of growth arrest by p53 can then be manifested.

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