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J Cell Sci. 2000 Oct;113 ( Pt 20):3603-12.

The apoptosis mediator mDAP-3 is a novel member of a conserved family of mitochondrial proteins.

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  • 1Medizinische Poliklinik and Physiologische Chemie, Universität München, Germany.


Programmed cell death is essential for organ development and regeneration. To identify molecules relevant for this process, full length cDNA cloning of a short, developmentally regulated murine cDNA fragment, MERM-3, was performed and showed a 1.7 kb mRNA encoding a 45 kDa protein with an ATP/GTP binding motive (P-loop). Sequence analysis revealed an 82% amino acid identity to the human death associated protein 3 (hDAP-3), a positive mediator of apoptosis. The full length sequence being the murine orthologue of hDAP-3 is therefore referred to as mDAP-3. In situ hybridization and northern blot analysis showed an abundant mRNA expression with a pronounced expression in highly proliferative epithelial compartments. For mDAP-3, cytochrome c release and induction of cell death could be demonstrated by overexpression of a mDAP-3/EGFP fusion protein. DAP-3 mediated apoptosis was shown to depend on a functional P-loop. Intracellular localization studies using the mDAP-3/EGFP fusion protein, cell fractionation and protease protection experiments localized mDAP-3 to the mitochondrial matrix. DAP-3, in contrast to cytochrome c, retained its mitochondrial localization during apoptosis induction. A mutant of a putative yeast orthologue of mDAP-3, YGL129c, here referred to as yDAP-3, has been shown to exhibit disrupted mitochondrial function. yDAP-3 deficient mutants could be shown to progressively loose mitochondrial DNA. Loss of mitochondrial DNA in yDAP-3 was partially prevented by transfection of the yDAP-3 deficient mutant with mDAP-3, indicating functional complementation by murine DAP-3 in the yeast system. These data identify mDAP-3 as one of the first proapoptotic factors in the mitochondrial matrix and provide evidence for a critical, evolutionary conserved role of members of the DAP-3 protein family for mitochondrial biogenesis.

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