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FEBS Lett. 2000 Apr 14;471(2-3):235-9.

A cytochrome c-GFP fusion is not released from mitochondria into the cytoplasm upon expression of Bax in yeast cells.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University, Clayton, Australia.


To study Bax-induced release of cytochrome c in vivo, we have expressed a cytochrome c-GFP (green fluorescent protein) fusion in Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells null for the expression of the endogenous cytochrome. We show here that cytochrome c-GFP is efficiently localised to mitochondria and able to function as an electron carrier between complexes III and IV of the respiratory chain. Strikingly, while natural cytochrome c is released into the cytoplasm upon expression of Bax, the cytochrome c-GFP fusion is not. Nevertheless, cells co-expressing Bax and the cytochrome c-GFP fusion die, indicating that mitochondrial release of cytochrome c is not essential for cell death to occur in yeast. The failure to release cytochrome c-GFP is presumed to arise from increased bulk due to the GFP moiety. We propose that in intact yeast cells, Bax-induced release of cytochrome c into the cytoplasm occurs through a selective pore and not as a consequence of the non-specific breakage of the mitochondrial outer membrane.

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