Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Cell Biol. 2000 Mar;2(3):156-62.

The coordinate release of cytochrome c during apoptosis is rapid, complete and kinetically invariant.

Author information

Division of Cellular Immunology, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, 10355 Science Center Drive, San Diego, California 92121, USA.


Release of cytochrome c from mitochondria triggers activation of caspase proteases and death of a cell by apoptosis. However, the mechanism and kinetics of cytochrome c release remain unknown. Here we study this event by using green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged cytochrome c, and find that the release of cytochrome-c-GFP always precedes exposure of phosphatidylserine and the loss of plasma-membrane integrity - characteristics of apoptotic cells. Once initiated, the release of cytochrome- c-GFP continues until all of the protein is released from all mitochondria in individual cells, within about 5 minutes, regardless of the type or strength of stimulus or the time elapsed since the stimulus was applied. Temperatures ranging from 24 degrees C to 37 degrees C do not change the duration of release, and nor does the addition of caspase inhibitors. Further, we find that the electron-transport chain can maintain the mitochondrial transmembrane potential even after cytochrome c has been released.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center