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Oncogene. 2001 Apr 12;20(16):1939-52.

Endoplasmic reticulum localized Bcl-2 prevents apoptosis when redistribution of cytochrome c is a late event.

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Department of Biochemistry, McMaster University, Hamilton, L8N 3Z5, Canada.


The disruption of mitochondrial function is a key component of apoptosis in most cell types. Localization of Bcl-2 to the outer mitochondrial and endoplasmic reticulum membranes is consistent with a role in the inhibition of many forms of apoptosis. In Rat-1 cells, a Bcl-2 mutant targeted exclusively to the endoplasmic reticulum (Bcl-cb5) was effective at inhibiting apoptosis induced by serum starvation/myc, or ceramide but not apoptosis induced by etoposide. The former conditions cause a decrease in mitochondrial transmembrane potential (Deltapsi(m)) as an early event that precedes the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria. By contrast, when cells are exposed to etoposide, a situation in which cytochrome c release and membrane localization of the pro-apoptotic protein Bax precede loss of Deltapsi(m), wild type Bcl-2 but not Bcl-cb5 prevents apoptosis. Therefore, Bcl-2 functions in spatially distinct pathways of apoptosis distinguished by the order of cytochrome c release and loss of Deltapsi(m).

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