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Oncogene. 2008 Feb 28;27(10):1421-8. Epub 2007 Sep 3.

Bfl-1/A1 functions, similar to Mcl-1, as a selective tBid and Bak antagonist.

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Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ 08854-5638, USA.


The prosurvival Bcl-2-family member Bfl-1/A1 is a transcriptional target of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) that is overexpressed in many human tumors and is a means by which NF-kappaB inhibits apoptosis, but its mode of action is controversial. To better understand how Bfl-1 functions, we investigated its interaction with proapoptotic multidomain proteins Bax and Bak, and the BH3-only proteins Bid and tBid. We demonstrate that in living cells Bfl-1 selectively interacts with Bak and tBid, but not with Bax or Bid. Bfl-1/Bak interaction is functional as Bfl-1 suppressed staurosporine (STS)-induced apoptosis in wild-type and Bax-deficient cells, but not in Bak-/- cells. We also show that Bfl-1 blocks tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha)-induced activation of Bax indirectly, via association with tBid. C-terminal deletion decreased Bfl-1's interaction with Bak and tBid and reduced its ability to suppress Bak- and tBid-mediated cell death. These data indicate that Bfl-1 utilizes different mechanisms to suppress apoptosis depending on the stimulus. Bfl-1 associates with tBid to prevent activation of proapoptotic Bax and Bak, and it also interacts directly with Bak to antagonize Bak-mediated cell death, similar to Mcl-1. Thus, part of the protective function of NF-kappaB is to induce Mcl-1-like activity by upregulating Bfl-1.

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