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Cell Death Differ. 1998 May;5(5):372-80.

Bcl-2 family proteins as ion-channels.

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  • 1The Burnham Institute, Program on Apoptosis and Cell Death Research, 10901 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


The Bcl-2 protein family function(s) as important regulators of cellular decisions to heed or ignore death signals. The three-dimensional structure of the Bcl-2 homolog, Bcl-XL, bears a strong resemblance to some pore-forming bacterial toxins. This similarity suggested that the Bcl-2 family proteins may also possess channel-forming capability. This review summarizes the recent initial studies on the in vitro channel activity of Bcl-2, Bcl-XL and Bax and offers some speculation as to the physiological role that these channels may play in the cell death pathway.

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