Promiscuous and Selective: How Intrinsically Disordered BH3 Proteins Interact with Their Pro-survival Partner MCL-1.

03 Jul 2018

The BCL-2 family of proteins plays a central role in regulating cell survival and apoptosis. Disordered BH3-only proteins bind promiscuously to a number of different BCL-2 proteins, with binding affinities that vary by orders of magnitude. Here we investigate the basis for these differences in affinity. We show that eight different disordered BH3 proteins all bind to their BCL-2 partner (MCL-1) very rapidly, and that the differences in sequences result in different dissociation rates. Similarly, mutation of the binding surface of MCL-1 generally affects association kinetics in the same way for all BH3 peptides but has significantly different effects on the dissociation rates. Importantly, we infer that the evolution of homologous, competing interacting partners has resulted in complexes with significantly different lifetimes.