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Sci Signal. 2009 Aug 25;2(85):ra48. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.2000274.

The VDAC2-BAK rheostat controls thymocyte survival.

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1
Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.

Abstract

The proapoptotic proteins BAX and BAK constitute the mitochondrial apoptotic gateway that executes cellular demise after integrating death signals. The lethal BAK is kept in check by voltage-dependent anion channel 2 (VDAC2), a mammalian-restricted VDAC isoform. Here, we provide evidence showing a critical role for the VADC2-BAK complex in determining thymocyte survival in vivo. Genetic depletion of Vdac2 in the thymus resulted in excessive cell death and hypersensitivity to diverse death stimuli including engagement of the T cell receptor. These phenotypes were completely rescued by the concurrent deletion of Bak but not that of Bax. Thus, the VDAC2-BAK axis provides a mechanism that governs the homeostasis of thymocytes. Our study reveals a sophisticated built-in rheostat that likely fine-tunes immune competence to balance autoimmunity and immunodeficiency.

PMID:
19706873
PMCID:
PMC3842237
DOI:
10.1126/scisignal.2000274
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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