New dimension in therapeutic targeting of BCL-2 family proteins

Samaher Besbes, Massoud Mirshahi, Marc Pocard and Christian Billard _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:12862-12871. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.3868

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Samaher Besbes1,2, Massoud Mirshahi1,2, Marc Pocard1,2 and Christian Billard1,2

1 INSERM U 965, Hôpital Lariboisière, Paris, France

2 Université Paris Diderot, UMR S965, Paris, France

Correspondence to:

Christian Billard, email:

Keywords: anticancer therapy; apoptosis; targeting BCL-2 family proteins; BH3 mimetics; prosurvival protein antagonists

Received: February 12, 2015 Accepted: April 01, 2015 Published: April 19, 2015


Proteins of the BCL-2 family control the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis. Targeting these proteins proves to be an attractive strategy for anticancer therapy. The biological context is based on the fact that BH3-only members of the family are specific antagonists of prosurvival members. This prompted the identification of “BH3 mimetic” compounds. These small peptides or organic molecules indeed mimic the BH3 domain of BH3-only proteins: by selectively binding and antagonizing prosurvival proteins, they can induce apoptosis in malignant cells. Some small-molecule inhibitors of prosurvival proteins have already entered clinical trials in cancer patients and two of them have shown significant therapeutic effects. The latest developments in the field of targeting BCL-2 family proteins highlight several new antagonists of prosurvival proteins as well as direct activators of proapoptotic proteins. These compounds open up novel prospects for the development of BH3 mimetic anticancer drugs.

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