Apoptosis and autophagy are both tightly regulated biological processes that play a central role in tissue homeostasis, development, and disease. The anti-apoptotic protein, Bcl-2, interacts with the evolutionarily conserved autophagy protein, Beclin 1. However, little is known about the functional significance of this interaction. Here, we show that wild-type Bcl-2 antiapoptotic proteins, but not Beclin 1 binding defective mutants of Bcl-2, inhibit Beclin 1-dependent autophagy in yeast and mammalian cells and that cardiac Bcl-2 transgenic expression inhibits autophagy in mouse heart muscle. Furthermore, Beclin 1 mutants that cannot bind to Bcl-2 induce more autophagy than wild-type Beclin 1 and, unlike wild-type Beclin 1, promote cell death. Thus, Bcl-2 not only functions as an antiapoptotic protein, but also as an antiautophagy protein via its inhibitory interaction with Beclin 1. This antiautophagy function of Bcl-2 may help maintain autophagy at levels that are compatible with cell survival, rather than cell death.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)