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J Biol Chem. 1998 May 15;273(20):12415-21.

Adenovirus E1B-19K/BCL-2 interacting protein BNIP3 contains a BH3 domain and a mitochondrial targeting sequence.

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Institute for Molecular Virology, St. Louis University Medical Center, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Adenovirus E1B-19K and BCL-2 anti-apoptosis proteins interact with certain BCL-2 family pro-apoptotic proteins. A conserved domain, BH3, present in these proteins is essential for their pro-apoptotic activity and for heterodimerization with anti-apoptosis proteins. Cellular protein BNIP3 (previously NIP3) interacts with E1B-19K, BCL-2, BCL-xL, and EBV-BHRF1. BNIP3 contains a motif similar to the BH3 domain. Deletion of the BH3-like motif in BNIP3 abrogates its ability to heterodimerize with E1B-19K and BCL-xL. Substitution of the BH3 domain of BNIP3 for the corresponding sequences of BAX functionally restores the pro-apoptotic and protein heterodimerization activities of BAX. BNIP3 exhibits a delayed cell death activity that is partially relieved by deletion of the BH3 domain. BNIP3 suppresses the anti-apoptosis activity of BCL-xL in a BH3-dependent manner. BNIP3 contains a C-terminal trans-membrane (TM) domain similar to other BCL-2 family proteins and BNIP1 (previously NIP1). The TM domains of BNIP3 and BNIP1 can functionally substitute for the TM domain of a BCL-2 family member EBV-BHRF1. The BNIP3 TM domain exclusively targets the heterologous green fluorescent protein (GFP) to mitochondria. These results suggest that BNIP3 is a member of the BH3-contaning BCL-2 family of pro-apoptotic proteins and functions in mitochondria.

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