PloS one

Biophysical Studies on BEX3, the p75NTR-Associated Cell Death Executor, Reveal a High-Order Oligomer with Partially Folded Regions.

PMID 26383250


BEX3 (Brain Expressed X-linked protein 3) is a member of a mammal-specific placental protein family. Several studies have found the BEX proteins to be associated with neurodegeneration, the cell cycle and cancer. BEX3 has been predicted to be intrinsically disordered and also to represent an intracellular hub for cell signaling. The pro-apoptotic activity of BEX3 in association with a number of additional proteins has been widely supported; however, to the best of our knowledge, very limited data are available on the conformation of any of the members of the BEX family. In this study, we structurally characterized BEX3 using biophysical experimental data. Small angle X-ray scattering and atomic force microscopy revealed that BEX3 forms a specific higher-order oligomer that is consistent with a globular molecule. Solution nuclear magnetic resonance, partial proteinase K digestion, circular dichroism spectroscopy, and fluorescence techniques that were performed on the recombinant protein indicated that the structure of BEX3 is composed of approximately 31% α-helix and 20% β-strand, contains partially folded regions near the N- and C-termini, and a core which is proteolysis-resistant around residues 55-120. The self-oligomerization of BEX3 has been previously reported in cell culture and is consistent with our in vitro data.

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