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Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2011 Sep 1;21(17):4951-5. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2011.06.134. Epub 2011 Jul 13.

Biochemical and pharmacological profiling of the pro-survival protein Bcl-xL.

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Department of Chemistry, Box 351700, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-1700, USA.


Bcl-2 family proteins are key mediators of programmed cell death. Over-expression of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members (Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, and Mcl-1) has been associated with tumor progression and chemotherapeutic resistance. Pharmacological agents that neutralize the functions of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins have emerged as a promising new class of anti-cancer agents. Biochemical analyses have demonstrated that small molecule inhibitors and some pro-apoptotic proteins exhibit distinct binding preferences for anti-apoptotic proteins. While numerous structures of anti-apoptotic proteins bound to ligands have been reported, the source of this selectivity is still unclear. Here, we present a systematic analysis of a series of Bcl-xL variants that contain mutations within the hydrophobic ligand-binding cleft. The ability of these Bcl-xL mutants to interact with both small molecule inhibitors and BH3 peptides was determined. These studies provide information on the contributions of specific residues to small molecule inhibitor binding and shed light on the ligand selectivity of these therapeutically important proteins.

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