Bcl-2 family proteins and mitochondria

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1998 Aug 10;1366(1-2):127-37. doi: 10.1016/s0005-2728(98)00108-x.


The Bcl-2 family of proteins plays a pivotal role in regulating cell life and death. Many of these proteins reside in the outer mitochondrial membrane, oriented towards the cytosol. Cytoprotective Bcl-2 family proteins such as Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL prevent mitochondrial permeability transition pore opening and release of apoptogenic proteins from mitochondria under many circumstances that would otherwise result in either apoptosis or necrosis. In contrast, some pro-apoptotic members of this family such as Bax can induce these destructive changes in mitochondria in both mammalian cells and when expressed exogenously in yeast. The mechanisms by which Bcl-2 family proteins control cell life and death remain elusive, but may include both the ability to form ion channels or pores in membranes and physical interactions with a variety of proteins implicated in apoptosis regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Apoptotic Protease-Activating Factor 1
  • Caspase 1
  • Cell Death
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Cytochrome c Group / metabolism
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Ion Channels / biosynthesis
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / physiology*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein


  • Apoptotic Protease-Activating Factor 1
  • Cytochrome c Group
  • Ion Channels
  • Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • Cysteine Endopeptidases
  • Caspase 1