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Cell Res. 2008 Dec;18(12):1210-9. doi: 10.1038/cr.2008.87.

Apaf-1-deficient fog mouse cell apoptosis involves hypo-polarization of the mitochondrial inner membrane, ATP depletion and citrate accumulation.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Medicine and Engineering, University of Yamanashi, Yamanashi 409-3898, Japan.


To explore how the intrinsic apoptosis pathway is controlled in the spontaneous fog (forebrain overgrowth) mutant mice with an Apaf1 splicing deficiency, we examined spleen and bone marrow cells from Apaf1(+/+) (+/+) and Apaf1(fog/fog) (fog/fog) mice for initiator caspase-9 activation by cellular stresses. When the mitochondrial inner membrane potential (Deltapsim) was disrupted by staurosporine, +/+ cells but not fog/fog cells activated caspase-9 to cause apoptosis, indicating the lack of apoptosome (apoptosis protease activating factor 1 (Apaf-1)/cytochrome c/(d)ATP/procaspase-9) function in fog/fog cells. However, when a marginal ( approximately 20%) decrease in Deltapsim was caused by hydrogen peroxide (0.1 mM), peroxynitritedonor 3-morpholinosydnonimine (0.1 mM) and UV-C irradiation (20 J/m(2)), both +/+ and fog/fog cells triggered procaspase-9 auto-processing and its downstream cascade activation. Supporting our previous results, procaspase-9 pre-existing in the mitochondria induced its auto-processing before the cytosolic caspase activation regardless of the genotypes. Cellular ATP concentration significantly decreased under the hypoactive Deltapsim condition. Furthermore, we detected accumulation of citrate, a kosmotrope known to facilitate procaspase-9 dimerization, probably due to a feedback control of the Krebs cycle by the electron transfer system. Thus, mitochondrial in situ caspase-9 activation may be caused by the major metabolic reactions in response to physiological stresses, which may represent a mode of Apaf-1-independent apoptosis hypothesized from recent genetic studies.

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