A kinetic fluorescence polarization ligand assay for monitoring BAX early activation

Jesse D. Gelles, Jarvier N. Mohammed, Yiyang Chen, Tara M. Sebastian, Jerry Edward Chipuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Developmental, homeostatic, and pharmacological pro-apoptotic signals converge by activating the BCL-2 family member BAX. Studies investigating molecular regulation of BAX are commonly limited to methodologies measuring endpoint phenotypes and do not assess activation of monomeric BAX. Here, we present FLAMBE, a fluorescence polarization ligand assay for monitoring BAX early activation, that measures activation-induced release of a peptide probe in real time. Using complementary parallel and tandem biochemical techniques, we validate, corroborate, and apply FLAMBE to a contemporary repertoire of BAX modulators, characterizing their contributions within the early steps of BAX activation. Additionally, we use FLAMBE to reveal that historically “dead” BAX mutants remain responsive to activation as quasi-functional monomers. We also identify data metrics for comparative analyses and demonstrate that FLAMBE data align with downstream functional observations. Collectively, FLAMBE advances our understanding of BAX activation and fills a methodological void for studying BAX with broad applications in cell biology and therapeutic development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100174
JournalCell Reports Methods
Issue number3
StatePublished - 28 Mar 2022


  • BAX
  • BCL-2 family
  • apoptosis
  • fluorescence polarization
  • high throughput
  • kinetic assay


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