The pro-apoptotic protein Bmf co-operates with Bim and Puma in neuron death induced by β-amyloid or NGF deprivation

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The pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 homology 3 domain only (BH3-only) proteins are central regulators of cell death in various physiological and pathological conditions, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). Bcl-2 modifying factor (Bmf) is one such BH3-only protein that is implicated in various death paradigms such as anoikis, seizures, cancer and autoimmunity. It also co-operates with other BH3-only proteins such as Bim in various death paradigms. However, its role in neurodegeneration is under-investigated. Here, we report for the first time the essential role of Bmf and its co-operativity with direct activator BH3-only proteins Bim and Puma in neuron death induced by beta-amyloid (Aβ) toxicity or NGF deprivation. Oligomeric Aβ is main pathologic species in AD and NGF deprivation is relevant for both developmental as well as pathologic neuron death. We find that Bmf over-expression causes cell death and Bmf knockdown protects neurons against death evoked by Aβ or NGF deprivation. We also find that Bmf co-operates with other important BH3-only proteins such as Bim and Puma in neuron death induced by Aβ or NGF deprivation. Simultaneous knocking down of these molecules by their respective shRNAs provide enhanced protection against Aβ. Taken together, our results elucidate the essential role of Bmf and its co-operative effects with already known neuron death inducers, Bim and Puma, in neuron death evoked by Aβ treatment or NGF deprivation.Graphical abstractHighlightsThe pro-apoptotic BH3-only protein Bmf is implicated as crucial regulators of neuron death.Bmf is upregulated in response Aβ toxicity or NGF deprivation and induces neuron death.Bmf co-operates with other BH3-only proteins, Bim and Puma that are known to induce neuron death.Bmf could be a potential therapeutic target in neurodegenerative diseases.

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