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J Biol Chem. 2000 Aug 18;275(33):25255-61.

MCL-1S, a splicing variant of the antiapoptotic BCL-2 family member MCL-1, encodes a proapoptotic protein possessing only the BH3 domain.

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Division of Reproductive Biology, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA 94305-5317, USA.


MCL-1 (myeloid cell leukemia-1) is an antiapoptotic BCL-2 family protein discovered as an early induction gene during myeloblastic leukemia cell differentiation. This survival protein has the BCL-2 homology (BH) domains 1, 2, and 3 and a C-terminal transmembrane region. We identified a short splicing variant of the MCL-1 mRNA in the human placenta encoding a protein, termed MCL-1 short (MCL-1S), with an altered C terminus as compared with the full-length MCL-1 long (MCL-1L), leading to the loss of BH1, BH2, and the transmembrane domains. Analysis of the human MCL-1 gene indicated that MCL-1S results from the splicing out of exon 2 during mRNA processing. MCL-1S, unlike MCL-1L, does not interact with diverse proapoptotic BCL-2-related proteins in the yeast two-hybrid system. In contrast, MCL-1S dimerizes with MCL-1L in the yeast assay and coprecipitates with MCL-1L in transfected mammalian cells. Overexpression of MCL-1S induces apoptosis in transfected Chinese hamster ovary cells, and the MCL-1S action was antagonized by the antiapoptotic MCL-1L. Thus, the naturally occurring MCL-1S variant represents a new proapoptotic BH3 domain-only protein capable of dimerizing with the antiapoptotic MCL-1L. The fate of MCL-1-expressing cells could be regulated through alternative splicing mechanisms and interactions of the resulting anti- and proapoptotic gene products.

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