Voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) proteins are major components of the outer mitochondrial membrane. VDAC has three isoforms with >70% sequence similarity and redundant roles in metabolite and ion transport. However, only Vdac2(-/-) (V2(-/-)) mice are embryonic lethal, indicating a unique and fundamental function of VDAC2 (V2). Recently, a specific V2 requirement was demonstrated for mitochondrial Bak import and truncated Bid (tBid)-induced apoptosis. To determine the relevant domain(s) of V2 involved, VDAC1 (V1) and V2 chimeric constructs were created and used to rescue V2(-/-) fibroblasts. Surprisingly, the commonly cited V2-specific N-terminal extension and cysteines were found to be dispensable for Bak import and high tBid sensitivity. In gain-of-function studies, V2 (123-179) was the minimal sequence sufficient to render V1 competent to support Bak insertion. Furthermore, in loss-of-function experiments, T168 and D170 were identified as critical residues. These motifs are conserved in zebrafish V2 (zfV2) that also rescued V2-deficient fibroblasts. Because high-resolution structures of zfV2 and mammalian V1 have become available, we could superimpose these structures and recognized that the critical V2-specific residues help to create a distinctive open "pocket" on the cytoplasmic surface that could facilitate Bak recruitment.
Recommended CitationNaghdi, Shamim; Várnai, Péter; and Hajnóczky, György, "Motifs of VDAC2 required for mitochondrial Bak import and tBid-induced apoptosis." (2015). Department of Pathology, Anatomy and Cell Biology Faculty Papers. Paper 187.