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We here used fluorescence imaging to explore the effect of co-overexpression of Mcl-1 and Bak/BH3-only proteins on mitochondrial morphology. The cells co-expressing CFP-Mcl-1 and YFP-Bak/BimL/Puma/tBid showed co-localization of Mcl-1 with Bak/Puma/BimL/tBid and also showed the inhibitory action of Mcl-1 on the Bak-, BimL-, Puma- or tBid-mediated cell death. Co-expression of Mcl-1 and Bak but not BH3-only proteins induced time-dependent mitochondrial swelling. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) imaging proved the direct binding of Mcl-1 to Bak, BimL, Puma and tBid, respectively. In addition, Mcl-1 prevented Bak oligomerization by retrotranslocating Bak from mitochondria into cytoplasm. Moreover, Mcl-1-Bak complex exhibited a good co-localization with mitochondria, and co-expression of Mcl-1 and Bak for more than 24 h not only induced mitochondrial swelling but also impaired mitochondrial membrane potential. Collectively, co-expression of Mcl-1 and Bak but not BH3-only proteins significantly induced mitochondrial swelling and subsequent loss of mitochondrial membrane potential. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Yong Wang, Wenhua Su, Zihao Mai, Mengyan Du, Si Yu, Yangpei Liu, Xiaopin Wang, Tongshen Chen. Co-expression of Mcl-1 and Bak induces mitochondrial swelling. Biochemical and biophysical research communications. 2020 Jul 05;527(4):866-873

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PMID: 32430171

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