CRYSTAL STRUCTURE OF BCL-2 IN COMPLEX WITH A BAX BH3 PEPTIDE
[BCL2_HUMAN] Note=A chromosomal aberration involving BCL2 has been found in chronic lymphatic leukemia. Translocation t(14;18)(q32;q21) with immunoglobulin gene regions. BCL2 mutations found in non-Hodgkin lymphomas carrying the chromosomal translocation could be attributed to the Ig somatic hypermutation mechanism resulting in nucleotide transitions.
[BCL2_HUMAN] Suppresses apoptosis in a variety of cell systems including factor-dependent lymphohematopoietic and neural cells. Regulates cell death by controlling the mitochondrial membrane permeability. Appears to function in a feedback loop system with caspases. Inhibits caspase activity either by preventing the release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria and/or by binding to the apoptosis-activating factor (APAF-1). [BAX_MOUSE] Accelerates programmed cell death by binding to, and antagonizing the apoptosis repressor BCL2 or its adenovirus homolog E1B 19k protein. Under stress conditions, undergoes a conformation change that causes translocation to the mitochondrion membrane, leading to the release of cytochrome c that then triggers apoptosis. Promotes activation of CASP3, and thereby apoptosis. BAX deficiency leads to lymphoid hyperplasia and male sterility, because of the cessation of sperm production. 
Publication Abstract from PubMed
Interactions between the BCL-2 family proteins determine the cell's fate to live or die. How they interact with each other to regulate apoptosis remains as an unsettled central issue. So far, the antiapoptotic BCL-2 proteins are thought to interact with BAX weakly, but the physiological significance of this interaction has been vague. Herein, we show that recombinant BCL-2 and BCL-w interact potently with a BCL-2 homology (BH) 3 domain-containing peptide derived from BAX, exhibiting the dissociation constants of 15 and 23 nM, respectively. To clarify the basis for this strong interaction, we determined the three-dimensional structure of a complex of BCL-2 with a BAX peptide spanning its BH3 domain. It revealed that their interactions extended beyond the canonical BH3 domain and involved three nonconserved charged residues of BAX. A novel BAX variant, containing the alanine substitution of these three residues, had greatly impaired affinity for BCL-2 and BCL-w, but was otherwise indistinguishable from wild-type BAX. Critically, the apoptotic activity of the BAX variant could not be restrained by BCL-2 and BCL-w, pointing that the observed tight interactions are critical for regulating BAX activation. We also comprehensively quantified the binding affinities between the three BCL-2 subfamily proteins. Collectively, the data show that due to the high affinity of BAX for BCL-2, BCL-w and A1, and of BAK for BCL-X(L), MCL-1 and A1, only a subset of BH3-only proteins, commonly including BIM, BID and PUMA, could be expected to free BAX or BAK from the antiapoptotic BCL-2 proteins to elicit apoptosis.Cell Research advance online publication 9 November 2010; doi:10.1038/cr.2010.149.
Evidence that inhibition of BAX activation by BCL-2 involves its tight and preferential interaction with the BH3 domain of BAX.,Ku B, Liang C, Jung JU, Oh BH Cell Res. 2010 Nov 9. PMID:21060336
From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.