Programmed cell death plays key roles in human health and disease. Signals for cellular life and death are regulated by the BCL-2 family proteins and converge at the mitochondria, where cell fate is ultimately decided. BCL-2 protein activities are critical for maintaining mitochondrial and cellular physiology, and are also linked with major human diseases, especially cancer. Thus, understanding their mechanisms of action has high biomedical priority. The BCL-2 family includes both pro-life (e.g. BCL-XL) and pro-death (e.g. BAX) proteins that exert their regulatory functions through a network of intermolecular interactions as they translocate between the cytoplasm and the mitochondrial outer membrane. Mitochondrial membrane association is a key early step of programmed cell death;however, the exact mechanism through which membrane association mediates BCL-2 protein function is not known. This project focuses on answering the central question: how do the three key BCL-2 relatives, BCL-XL, BAX and BID, transition between soluble and membrane-inserted states to exert their pro- and anti-apoptotic activities?

Public Health Relevance

Mitochondrion-dependent apoptosis is regulated primarily by the BCL-2 family proteins and is linked with major human diseases, especially cancer. Understanding its molecular mechanism of action is directly relevant to human health and is the main goal of this project.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
1R01CA179087-01A1
Application #
8702959
Study Section
Membrane Biology and Protein Processing (MBPP)
Program Officer
Knowlton, John R
Project Start
2014-06-01
Project End
2019-03-31
Budget Start
2014-06-01
Budget End
2015-05-31
Support Year
1
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
$723,448
Indirect Cost
$257,271
Name
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute
Department
Type
DUNS #
020520466
City
La Jolla
State
CA
Country
United States
Zip Code
92037