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IBRDC2, an IBR-type E3 ubiquitin ligase, is a regulatory factor for Bax and apoptosis activation.

Benard G., Neutzner A., Peng G., Wang C., Livak F., Youle R.J., Karbowski M.

Bax, a pro-apoptotic protein from the Bcl-2 family, is central to apoptosis regulation. To suppress spontaneous apoptosis, Bax must be under stringent control that may include regulation of Bax conformation and expression levels. We report that IBRDC2, an IBR-type RING-finger E3 ubiquitin ligase, regulates the levels of Bax and protects cells from unprompted Bax activation and cell death. Downregulation of IBRDC2 induces increased cellular levels and accumulation of the active form of Bax. The ubiquitination-dependent regulation of Bax stability is suppressed by IBRDC2 downregulation and stimulated by IBRDC2 overexpression in both healthy and apoptotic cells. Although mostly cytosolic in healthy cells, upon induction of apoptosis, IBRDC2 accumulates in mitochondrial domains enriched with Bax. Mitochondrial accumulation of IBRDC2 occurs in parallel with Bax activation and also depends on the expression levels of Bcl-xL. Furthermore, IBRDC2 physically interacts with activated Bax. By applying Bax mutants in HCT116 Bax(-/-) cells, combined with the use of active Bax-specific antibodies, we have established that both mitochondrial localization and apoptotic activation of Bax are required for IBRDC2 translocation to the mitochondria.

EMBO J. 29:1458-1471(2010) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]