Pro-apoptotic cascade activates BID, which oligomerizes BAK or BAX into pores that result in the release of cytochrome c

Cell Death Differ. 2000 Dec;7(12):1166-73. doi: 10.1038/sj.cdd.4400783.


We review data supporting a model in which activated tBID results in an allosteric activation of BAK, inducing its intramembranous oligomerization into a proposed pore for cytochrome c efflux. The BH3 domain of tBID is not required for targeting but remains on the mitochondrial surface where it is required to trigger BAK to release cytochrome c. tBID functions not as a pore-forming protein but as a membrane targeted and concentrated death ligand. tBID induces oligomerization of BAK, and both Bid and Bak knockout mice indicate the importance of this event in the release of cytochrome c. In parallel, the full pro-apoptotic member BAX, which is highly homologous to BAK, rapidly forms pores in liposomes that release intravesicular FITC-cytochrome c approximately 20A. A definable pore progressed from approximately 11A consisting of two BAX molecules to a approximately 22A pore comprised of four BAX molecules, which transported cytochrome c. Thus, an activation cascade of pro-apoptotic proteins from BID to BAK or BAX integrates the pathway from surface death receptors to the irreversible efflux of cytochrome c. Cell Death and Differentiation (2000) 7, 1166 - 1173

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • BH3 Interacting Domain Death Agonist Protein
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cytochrome c Group / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • bcl-2 Homologous Antagonist-Killer Protein
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein


  • BAK1 protein, human
  • BAX protein, human
  • BH3 Interacting Domain Death Agonist Protein
  • BID protein, human
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cytochrome c Group
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • bcl-2 Homologous Antagonist-Killer Protein
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein