Structural insights into the degradation of Mcl-1 induced by BH3 domains.
Apoptosis is held in check by prosurvival proteins of the Bcl-2 family. The distantly related BH3-only proteins bind to and antagonize them, thereby promoting apoptosis. Whereas binding of the BH3-only protein Noxa to prosurvival Mcl-1 induces Mcl-1 degradation by the proteasome, binding of another BH3-only ligand, Bim, elevates Mcl-1 protein levels. We compared the three-dimensional structures of the complexes formed between BH3 peptides of both Bim and Noxa, and we show that a discrete C-terminal sequence of the Noxa BH3 is necessary to instigate Mcl-1 degradation.