Prodigiosin and obatoclax, members of the prodiginines family, are small molecules with anti-cancer properties that are
currently under preclinical and clinical trials. The molecular target(s) of these agents, however, is an open question.
Combining experimental and computational techniques we find that prodigiosin binds to the BH3 domain in some BCL-2
protein families, which play an important role in the apoptotic programmed cell death. In particular, our results indicate
a large affinity of prodigiosin for MCL-1, an anti-apoptotic member of the BCL-2 family. In melanoma cells, we demonstrate
that prodigiosin activates the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway by disrupting MCL-1/BAK complexes. Computer simulations
with the PELE software allow the description of the induced fit process, obtaining a detailed atomic view of the molecular
interactions. These results provide new data to understand the mechanism of action of these molecules, and assist in the
development of more specific inhibitors of anti-apoptotic BCL-2 proteins.