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Autophagy. 2007 Nov-Dec;3(6):561-8. Epub 2007 Jul 8.

Differential interactions between Beclin 1 and Bcl-2 family members.

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Department of Neurobiochemistry, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel.


Autophagy, a cellular degradation system, promotes both cell death and survival. The interaction between Bcl-2 family proteins and Beclin 1, a Bcl-2 interacting protein that promotes autophagy, can mediate crosstalk between autophagy and apoptosis. We investigated the interaction between anti-and pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins with Beclin 1. Our results show that Beclin 1 directly interacts with Bcl-2, Bcl-x(L), Bcl-w and to a lesser extent with Mcl-1. Beclin 1 does not bind the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins. The interaction between Beclin 1 and the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-x(L) was inhibited by BH3-only proteins, but not by multi-domain proteins. Sequence alignment and structural modeling suggest that Beclin 1 contains a putative BH3-like domain which may interact with the hydrophobic grove of Bcl-x(L). Mutation of the Beclin 1 amino acids predicted to mediate this interaction inhibited the association of Beclin 1 with Bcl-x(L). Our results suggest that BH3 only proapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins may modulate the interactions between Bcl-x(L) and Beclin 1.

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