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FEBS Lett. 2001 Dec 14;509(3):435-8.

Reactive oxygen species generated from the mitochondrial electron transport chain induce cytochrome c dissociation from beef-heart submitochondrial particles via cardiolipin peroxidation. Possible role in the apoptosis.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and C.N.R Unit for the Study of Mitochondria and Bioenergetics, University of Bari, Via E, Orabona 4, 70126, Bari, Italy.


Cytochrome c release from mitochondria is a critical event in the apoptosis induction. Dissociation of cytochrome c from the mitochondrial inner membrane (IMM) is a necessary first step for cytochrome c release. In the present study, the effect of reactive oxygen species (ROS) on the dissociation of cytochrome c from beef-heart submitochondrial particles (SMP) and on the cardiolipin content was investigated. Exposure of SMP to mitochondrial-mediated ROS generation resulted in a large dissociation of cytochrome c from SMP and in a parallel loss of cardiolipin. Both these effects were directly and significantly correlated and also abolished by superoxide dismutase+catalase. These results demonstrate that ROS generation induces the dissociation of cytochrome c from IMM via cardiolipin peroxidation. The data may prove useful in clarifying the molecular mechanism underlying the release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria to the cytosol.

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