BNips: a group of pro-apoptotic proteins in the Bcl-2 family

Apoptosis. 2003 Jun;8(3):229-36. doi: 10.1023/a:1023616620970.


BNip (formerly known as Nip) proteins, including homologues isolated from human, mouse and Caenorhabditis. elegans, are a relatively new subgroup of the Bcl-2 family. These proteins are classified into this family based on limited sequence homology with the Bcl-2 homology domain 3 and carboxyl terminal transmembrane domain. BNip proteins were first discovered based on their interaction with the adenovirus E1B 19 kDa/Bcl-2 family protein and since then, their roles in cell death pathways have been actively studied. However, the precise mechanisms by which the BNip proteins induce apoptosis and/or necrosis remain to be determined. To advance our knowledge, we have provided a summary and review of current literature regarding BNip proteins including comparative sequence analysis, mutational mapping of the functional domains, and cell death mechanisms involving disruption of mitochondrial homeostasis. Since BNip proteins are expressed at high levels in the heart as compared to other organs, their roles in cardiomyocyte injury during hypoxia or viral infection is a focus of this review. Finally, we discuss potential directions for further study on this increasingly important group of pro-apoptotic proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Cardiomyopathies / genetics
  • Cardiomyopathies / metabolism
  • Cardiomyopathies / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / cytology
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / physiology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • BNIP1 protein, human
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2