Bcl-2 family members are key regulators of apoptosis. Their involvement in other cellular processes has been so far overlooked. We have studied the role of the Bcl-2 homolog Nrz in the developing zebrafish. Nrz was found to be localized to the yolk syncytial layer, a region containing numerous mitochondria and ER membranes. Nrz knockdown resulted in developmental arrest before gastrulation, due to free Ca(2+) increase in the yolk cell, activating myosin light chain kinase, which led to premature contraction of actin-myosin cables in the margin and separation of the blastomeres from the yolk cell. In the yolk syncytial layer, Nrz appears to prevent the release of Ca(2+) from the endoplasmic reticulum by directly interacting with the IP3R1 Ca(2+) channel. Thus, the Bcl-2 family may participate in early development, not only by controlling apoptosis but also by acting on cytoskeletal dynamics and cell movements via Ca(2+) fluxes inside the embryo.
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