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Bcl-2-associated X protein
The Bcl-2–associated X protein, or BAX, gene was the first identified pro-apoptotic member of the Bcl-2 protein family. Bcl-2 family members share one or more of the four characteristic domains of homology entitled the Bcl-2 homology (BH) domains (named BH1, BH2, BH3 and BH4), and can form hetero- or homodimers. Bcl-2 proteins act as anti- or pro-apoptotic regulators that are involved in a wide variety of cellular activities.
Bax is a pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein containing BH1, BH2 and BH3 domains. In healthy mammalian cells, the majority of Bax is found in the cytosol, but upon initiation of apoptotic signaling, Bax undergoes a conformation shift, and inserts into organelle membranes, primarily the outer mitochondrial membrane. Bax is believed to interact with, and induce the opening of the mitochondrial voltage-dependent anion channel, VDAC. Alternatively, growing evidence suggest that activated Bax and/or Bak form an oligomeric pore, MAC in the outer membrane. This results in the the release of cytochrome c and other pro-apoptotic factors from the mitochondria, often referred to as mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization, leading to activation of caspases. This defines a direct role for Bax in mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization, a role common to the Bcl-2 proteins containing the BH1, BH2 and BH3 domains.
The expression of BAX is upregulated by the tumor suppressor protein p53, and Bax has been shown to be involved in p53-mediated apoptosis. The p53 protein is a transcription factor that, when activated as part of the cell's response to stress, regulates many downstream target genes, including BAX. However, p53 also has a transcription-independent role in apoptosis. In particular, p53 interacts with Bax, promoting Bax activation and the insertion of Bax into the mitochondrial membrane.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bcl-2-associated_X_protein". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|