The Journal of biological chemistry

C-terminal residues regulate localization and function of the antiapoptotic protein Bfl-1.

PMID 19759007


Unlike other antiapoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family, Bfl-1 does not contain a well defined C-terminal transmembrane domain, and whether the C-terminal tail of Bfl-1 functions as a membrane anchor is not yet clearly established. The molecular modeling study of the full-length Bfl-1 performed within this work suggests that Bfl-1 may co-exist in two distinct conformational states: one in which its C-terminal helix alpha9 is inserted in the hydrophobic groove formed by the BH1-3 domains of Bfl-1 and one with its C terminus. Parallel analysis of the subcellular localization of Bfl-1 indicates that even if Bfl-1 may co-exist in two distinct conformational states, most of the endogenous protein is tightly associated with the mitochondria by its C terminus in both healthy and apoptotic peripheral blood lymphocytes as well as in malignant B cell lines. However, the helix alpha9 of Bfl-1, and therefore the binding of Bfl-1 to mitochondria, is not absolutely required for the antiapoptotic activity of Bfl-1. A particular feature of Bfl-1 is the amphipathic character of its C-terminal helix alpha9. Our data clearly indicate that this property of helix alpha9 is required for the anchorage of Bfl-1 to the mitochondria but also regulates the antiapoptotic function Bfl-1.