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Induction Of Apoptosis By Human Nbk/Bik, A BH3-containing Protein That Interacts With E1B 19K

J Han, P Sabbatini, E White

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The E1B 19-kilodalton protein (19K protein) is a potent apoptosis inhibitor and the adenovirus homolog of Bcl-2 (E. White, Genes Dev. 10:1-15, 1996). To obtain a better understanding of the biochemical mechanism by which the E1B 19K protein regulates apoptosis, proteins that interact with 19K have been identified; one of these is Bax (J. Han, P. Sabbatini, D. Perez, L. Rao, D. Mohda, and E. White, Genes Dev. 10:461-477, 1996), and another is Bak (S. N. Farrow, J. H. M. White, I. Martinou, T. Raven, K.-T. Pun, C. J. Grinham, J.-C. Martinou, and R. Brown, Nature (London) 374:731-733, 1995). Bax and Bak are Bcl-2 family members which contain Bcl-2 homology regions 1, 2, and 3 (BH1, BH2, and BH3), which interact with E1B 19K and Bcl-2 and promote apoptosis. Like Bax and Bak, Nbk was cloned from a yeast two-hybrid screen for proteins that interact with E1B 19K. Nbk contained BH3 but not BH1 or BH2. It also interacted with Bcl-2 but not with Bax. Both Bcl-2 and E1B 19K interacted with Nbk in vitro, and this interaction was highly specific. In vivo, the Nbk and E1B 19K proteins may colocalize with cytoplasmic and nuclear membranes. Nbk expression functionally antagonized 19K-mediated inhibition of apoptotic cell death and completely prevented transformation by E1A and E1B 19K. Nbk was sufficient for induction of apoptosis in the presence of mutant p53 and thus low levels of Bax, suggesting that Nbk functions independently of Bax to induce apoptosis. Nbk may therefore represent a novel death regulator which contains only a BH3 that interacts with and antagonizes apoptosis inhibitors such as the E1B 19K protein.