The Journal of biological chemistry

Structure-Function Analysis of the Mcl-1 Protein Identifies a Novel Senescence-regulating Domain.

PMID 26205817


Unlike other antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family members, Mcl-1 also mediates resistance to cancer therapy by uniquely inhibiting chemotherapy-induced senescence (CIS). In general, Bcl-2 family members regulate apoptosis at the level of the mitochondria through a common prosurvival binding groove. Through mutagenesis, we determined that Mcl-1 can inhibit CIS even in the absence of its apoptotically important mitochondrion-localizing domains. This finding prompted us to generate a series of Mcl-1 deletion mutants from both the N and C termini of the protein, including one that contained a deletion of all of the Bcl-2 homology domains, none of which impacted anti-CIS capabilities. Through subsequent structure-function analyses of Mcl-1, we identified a previously uncharacterized loop domain responsible for the anti-CIS activity of Mcl-1. The importance of the loop domain was confirmed in multiple tumor types, two in vivo models of senescence, and by demonstrating that a peptide mimetic of the loop domain can effectively inhibit the anti-CIS function of Mcl-1. The results from our studies appear to be highly translatable because we discerned an inverse relationship between the expression of Mcl-1 and of various senescence markers in cancerous human tissues. In summary, our findings regarding the unique structural properties of Mcl-1 provide new approaches for targeted cancer therapy.