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The Release of Cytochrome c from Mitochondria: A Primary Site for Bcl-2 Regulation of Apoptosis

Science  21 Feb 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5303, pp. 1132-1136
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5303.1132

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Abstract

In a cell-free apoptosis system, mitochondria spontaneously released cytochrome c, which activated DEVD-specific caspases, leading to fodrin cleavage and apoptotic nuclear morphology. Bcl-2 acted in situ on mitochondria to prevent the release of cytochrome c and thus caspase activation. During apoptosis in intact cells, cytochrome c translocation was similarly blocked by Bcl-2 but not by a caspase inhibitor, zVAD-fmk. In vitro, exogenous cytochrome c bypassed the inhibitory effect of Bcl-2. Cytochrome c release was unaccompanied by changes in mitochondrial membrane potential. Thus, Bcl-2 acts to inhibit cytochrome c translocation, thereby blocking caspase activation and the apoptotic process.

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