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EMBO J. 2011 Jun 14;30(14):2779-92. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2011.197.

A yeast BH3-only protein mediates the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis.

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Institute of Molecular Biosciences, University of Graz, Graz, Austria.


Mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization is a watershed event in the process of apoptosis, which is tightly regulated by a series of pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins belonging to the BCL-2 family, each characteristically possessing a BCL-2 homology domain 3 (BH3). Here, we identify a yeast protein (Ybh3p) that interacts with BCL-X(L) and harbours a functional BH3 domain. Upon lethal insult, Ybh3p translocates to mitochondria and triggers BH3 domain-dependent apoptosis. Ybh3p induces cell death and disruption of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential via the mitochondrial phosphate carrier Mir1p. Deletion of Mir1p and depletion of its human orthologue (SLC25A3/PHC) abolish stress-induced mitochondrial targeting of Ybh3p in yeast and that of BAX in human cells, respectively. Yeast cells lacking YBH3 display prolonged chronological and replicative lifespans and resistance to apoptosis induction. Thus, the yeast genome encodes a functional BH3 domain that induces cell death through phylogenetically conserved mechanisms.

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