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Cell Death Differ. 2006 Oct;13(10):1651-62. Epub 2006 Jan 27.

Interaction of F1L with the BH3 domain of Bak is responsible for inhibiting vaccinia-induced apoptosis.

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Cancer Research UK, London Research Institute, Lincoln's Inn Fields Laboratories, 44 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PX, UK.


Apoptosis represents an important cellular defence mechanism against viral pathogens by virtue of its ability to remove infected cells. Consequently, many viruses have developed numerous strategies to prevent or delay host cell apoptosis in order to achieve productive replication. Here we report that deletion of the F1L gene from the vaccinia genome results in increased apoptosis during infection. We demonstrate that F1L, which has no sequence homology to Bcl-2 family members, inhibits apoptosis at the level of mitochondria by binding to Bak. As a consequence, F1L prevents Bak activation, oligomerization and interaction with active Bax, all critical steps in the induction of apoptosis. We demonstrate that residues 64-84 of F1L interact directly with the Bcl-2 homology domain 3 (BH3) domain of Bak. This region of F1L has limited sequence similarity to known Bak-interacting BH3 domains. We also find that such additional BH3-like domains exist in the vaccinia genome. We conclude that F1L uses this specific, BH3-like domain to bind and inhibit Bak at the mitochondria.

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