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J Biol Chem. 2000 Oct 6;275(40):31199-203.

Cytochrome c promotes caspase-9 activation by inducing nucleotide binding to Apaf-1.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute & Department of Biochemistry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Texas 75235, USA.


We report here the biochemical analysis of the reconstituted de novo procaspase-9 activation using highly purified cytochrome c, recombinant apoptotic protease-activating factor-1 (Apaf-1), and recombinant procaspase-9. Using a nucleotide binding assay, we found that Apaf-1 alone bound dATP poorly and the nucleotide binding to Apaf-1 was significantly stimulated by cytochrome c. The binding of dATP to Apaf-1 induces the formation of a multimeric Apaf-1. cytochrome c complex, apoptosome. Procaspase-9 also synergistically promotes dATP binding to Apaf-1 in a cytochrome c-dependent manner. The dATP bound to apoptosome remained as dATP, not dADP. A nonhydrolyzable ATP analog, ADPCP (beta,gamma-methylene adenosine 5'-triphosphate), was able to support apoptosome formation and caspase activation in place of dATP or ATP. These data indicate that the key event in Apaf-1-mediated caspase-9 activation is cytochrome c-induced dATP binding to Apaf-1.

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