Heavy metals induce phosphorylation of the Bcl-2 protein by Jun N-terminal kinase
The Bcl-2 protein is one of the key components of biochemical pathways controlling programmed cell death. The function of this protein can be regulated by post-translational modifications. Phosphorylation of Bcl-2 has been considered to be significantly associated with cell cycle arrest in the G2/M phase of the cell cycle, and with cell death caused by defects of microtubule dynamics. This study shows that phosphorylation of Bcl-2 can be induced by heavy metals due to activation of the Jun N-terminal kinase pathway that is not linked to the G2/M cell cycle arrest. Furthermore, we demonstrate that hyperphosphorylated Bcl-2 protein is a more potent inhibitor of zinc-induced cell death than its hypophosphorylated mutant form. These data suggest that regulation of Bcl-2 protein function by phosphorylation is an important part of cell responses to stress.