Bcl-2 Family Evolutionary Conservation

Marc Kvansakul, Chathura Suraweera, Suresh Banjara, Mark G. Hinds

Research output: Other contributionOther


Intrinsic apoptosis, the response to intracellular cell death stimuli, is regulated by the interplay of the B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) family and their membrane interactions. Bcl-2 proteins mediate a number of processes including development, homeostasis, autophagy, and innate and adaptive immune responses and their dysregulation underpins a host of diseases including cancer. The Bcl-2 family is characterized by the presence of conserved sequence motifs called Bcl-2 homology (BH) motifs, as well as a transmembrane region, which form the interaction sites and intracellular location mechanism, respectively. Bcl-2 proteins have been recognized in the earliest metazoans including Porifera (sponges), Placozoans, and Cnidarians (e.g., Hydra). A number of viruses have gained Bcl-2 homologs and subvert innate immunity and cellular apoptosis for their replication, but they frequently have very different sequences to their host Bcl-2 analogs. Though most mechanisms of apoptosis initiation converge on activation of caspases that destroy the cell from within, the numerous gene insertions, deletions, and duplications during evolution have led to a divergence in mechanisms of intrinsic apoptosis. Currently, the action of the Bcl-2 family is best understood in vertebrates and nematodes but new insights are emerging from evolutionarily earlier organisms.
Original languageEnglish
Typeonline encyclopedia entry
Media of outputEncyclopedia platform
PublisherMDPI AG
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2021

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