Dana Westphal

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In stressed cells, apoptosis ensues when Bcl-2 family members Bax or Bak oligomerize and permeabilize the mitochondrial outer membrane. Certain BH3-only relatives can directly activate them to mediate this pivotal, poorly understood step. To clarify the conformational changes that induce Bax oligomerization, we determined crystal structures of BaxΔC21(More)
Bax and Bak are two nuclear-encoded proteins present in higher eukaryotes that are able to pierce the mitochondrial outer membrane to mediate cell death by apoptosis. Thus, organelles recruited by nucleated cells to supply energy can be recruited by Bax and Bak to kill cells. The two proteins lie in wait in healthy cells where they adopt a globular(More)
The central role of the Bcl-2 family in regulating apoptotic cell death was first identified in the 1980s. Since then, significant in-roads have been made in identifying the multiple members of this family, characterizing their form and function and understanding how their interactions determine whether a cell lives or dies. In this review we focus on the(More)
Apoptotic stimuli activate and oligomerize the proapoptotic proteins Bak and Bax, resulting in mitochondrial outer-membrane permeabilization and subsequent cell death. This activation can occur when certain BH3-only proteins interact directly with Bak and Bax. Recently published crystal structures reveal that Bax separates into core and latch domains in(More)
The pivotal step on the mitochondrial pathway to apoptosis is permeabilization of the mitochondrial outer membrane (MOM) by oligomers of the B-cell lymphoma-2 (Bcl-2) family members Bak or Bax. However, how they disrupt MOM integrity is unknown. A longstanding model is that activated Bak and Bax insert two α-helices, α5 and α6, as a hairpin across the MOM,(More)
During apoptosis, Bak and Bax permeabilize the mitochondrial outer membrane by undergoing major conformational change and oligomerization. This activation process in Bak is reported to require dephosphorylation of tyrosine-108 close to an activation trigger site. To investigate how dephosphorylation of Bak contributes to its activation and conformational(More)
Activation and oligomerisation of Bax, a key pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family protein, are key steps in the mitochondrial pathway to apoptosis. The signals for apoptosis are conveyed by the distantly related BH3-only proteins, which use their short BH3 domain, an amphipathic α-helix, to interact with other Bcl-2 family members. Here we report an NMR study of(More)
The BH3-only protein Bim is a potent direct activator of the proapoptotic effector protein Bax, but the structural basis for its activity has remained poorly defined. Here we describe the crystal structure of the BimBH3 peptide bound to BaxΔC26 and structure-based mutagenesis studies. Similar to BidBH3, the BimBH3 peptide binds into the cognate surface(More)
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