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Cell. 2000 Nov 10;103(4):645-54.

Structure of Bax: coregulation of dimer formation and intracellular localization.

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Biochemistry Section, Surgical Neurology Branch, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Apoptosis is stimulated by the insertion of Bax from the cytosol into mitochondrial membranes. The solution structure of Bax, including the putative transmembrane domain at the C terminus, was determined in order to understand the regulation of its subcellular location. Bax consists of 9 alpha helices where the assembly of helices alpha1 through alpha 8 resembles that of the apoptosis inhibitor, Bcl-x(L). The C-terminal alpha 9 helix occupies the hydrophobic pocket proposed previously to mediate heterodimer formation and bioactivity of opposing members of the Bcl-2 family. The Bax structure shows that the orientation of helix alpha 9 provides simultaneous control over its mitochondrial targeting and dimer formation.

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