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Stephanie Bleicken (on the left), Enrica Bordignon, and Tufa Assafa investigated the protein using various spectroscopic techniques. © RUB, Kramer
Using a fluorescent dye, the researchers verify if Bax opens pores in the membrane; this is the mechanism with which the protein induces apoptosis. © RUB, Kramer

New insights into the structure of a killer protein

Cell Death Differ.: The protein Bax is responsible for programmed cell death. Because it is constantly changing its location, its structure has so far been difficult to determine.

The protein Bax is responsible for programmed cell death. Because it is constantly changing its location, its structure has so far been difficult to determine.

Researchers at RUB and from Tübingen have gained new insights into the structure of the killer protein Bax. It induces programmed cell death, the method by which the body disposes of cells that are no longer needed or have been pathologically altered. Because it moves from the aqueous cell fluid to the oil-like membrane, Bax is difficult to study.

A team led by Professor Enrica Bordignon and Dr. Stephanie Bleicken from the working group EPR Spectroscopy at RUB has now investigated the protein using various spectroscopy techniques and was thus able to identify the most likely model for its active structure in the membrane.

The group describes the findings in the journal Cell Death and Differentiation, published online on 5 September 2018. The work was carried out as part of the Cluster of Excellence Resolv.

 

Additional Information

Original Publication: S. Bleicken, T. E. Assafa, C. Stegmueller, A. Wittig, A. J. Garcia-Saez, E. Bordignon: Topology of active, membrane-embedded Bax in the context of a toroidal pore, in: Cell Death & Differentiation, 2018, DOI: 10.1038/s41418-018-0184-6

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