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Nat Cell Biol. 2011 Sep 18;13(10):1224-33. doi: 10.1038/ncb2330.

Bcl-xL regulates metabolic efficiency of neurons through interaction with the mitochondrial F1FO ATP synthase.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.

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  • Nat Cell Biol. 2011 Nov;13(11):1383.


Anti-apoptotic Bcl2 family proteins such as Bcl-x(L) protect cells from death by sequestering apoptotic molecules, but also contribute to normal neuronal function. We find in hippocampal neurons that Bcl-x(L) enhances the efficiency of energy metabolism. Our evidence indicates that Bcl-x(L)interacts directly with the β-subunit of the F(1)F(O) ATP synthase, decreasing an ion leak within the F(1)F(O) ATPase complex and thereby increasing net transport of H(+) by F(1)F(O) during F(1)F(O) ATPase activity. By patch clamping submitochondrial vesicles enriched in F(1)F(O) ATP synthase complexes, we find that, in the presence of ATP, pharmacological or genetic inhibition of Bcl-x(L) activity increases the membrane leak conductance. In addition, recombinant Bcl-x(L) protein directly increases the level of ATPase activity of purified synthase complexes, and inhibition of endogenous Bcl-x(L) decreases the level of F(1)F(O) enzymatic activity. Our findings indicate that increased mitochondrial efficiency contributes to the enhanced synaptic efficacy found in Bcl-x(L)-expressing neurons.

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