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FEBS Lett. 1998 Apr 10;426(1):111-6.

Disruption of the outer mitochondrial membrane as a result of large amplitude swelling: the impact of irreversible permeability transition.

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  • 1CNRS UPR420, Génétique Moléculaire et Biologie du Développement 19, Villejuif, France.


Upon induction of permeability transition with different agents (Ca2+, tert-butyl hydroperoxide, atractyloside), mouse hepatocyte mitochondria manifest a disruption of outer membrane integrity leading to the release of cytochrome c and apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF), two proteins which are involved in programmed cell death (apoptosis). Chelation of Ca2+ shortly (within 2 min) after its addition to isolated mitochondria reestablished the mitochondrial transmembrane potential (deltapsi(m)), prevented induction of large amplitude swelling and release of both cytochrome c and AIF. In contrast, late Ca2+ chelation (10 min after addition of Ca2+) failed to affect these parameters. Cytochrome c appears to be released through a mechanically damaged outer mitochondrial membrane rather than via a specific release mechanism. These findings clarify the mechanisms through which irreversible permeability transition occurs with subsequent large amplitude swelling culminating in the release of intermembrane proteins from mitochondria. Moreover, they confirm the hypothesis formulated by Skulachev [FEBS Lett. 397 (1996) 7-10 and Q. Rev. Biophys. 29 (1996) 169-2021 linking permeability transition to activation of the apoptogenic catabolic enzymes.

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