Unknotting the roles of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL in cell death

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005 Jul 29;333(2):336-43. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2005.04.161.


The antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL play important roles in inhibiting mitochondria-dependent extrinsic and intrinsic cell death pathways. It seems that these two proteins have distinct functions for inhibiting extrinsic and intrinsic cell death pathways. The overexpression of Bcl-2 is able to inhibit not only apoptotic cell death but also in part nonapoptotic cell death, which has the role of cell cycle arrest in the G1 phase, which may promote cellular senescence. The overexpression of Bcl-2 may also have the ability to enhance cell death in the interaction of Bcl-xL with other factors. The overexpression of Bcl-xL enhances autophagic cell death when apoptotic cell death is inhibited in Bax(-/-)/Bak(-/-) double knockout cells. This review discusses the previously unexplained aspects of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL functions associated with cell death, for better understanding of their functions in the regulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • bcl-X Protein


  • BCL2L1 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • bcl-X Protein