The secrets of the Bcl-2 family

Cell Death Differ. 2012 Nov;19(11):1733-40. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2012.105. Epub 2012 Aug 31.


The Bcl-2 family of proteins is formed by pro- and antiapoptotic members. Together they regulate the permeabilization of the mitochondrial outer membrane, a key step in apoptosis. Their complex network of interactions both in the cytosol and on mitochondria determines the fate of the cell. In the past 2 decades, the members of the family have been identified and classified according to their function. Several competing models have been proposed to explain how the Blc-2 proteins orchestrate apoptosis signaling. However, basic aspects of the action of these proteins remain elusive. This review is focused on the biophysical mechanisms that are relevant for their action in apoptosis and on the challenging gaps in our knowledge that necessitate further exploration to finally understand how the Bcl-2 family regulates apoptosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Membrane Permeability
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / chemistry
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*
  • bcl-2 Homologous Antagonist-Killer Protein / metabolism
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / metabolism


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • bcl-2 Homologous Antagonist-Killer Protein
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein