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Dev Cell. 2002 Jan;2(1):55-67.

A distinct pathway remodels mitochondrial cristae and mobilizes cytochrome c during apoptosis.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Pathology and Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, 02115, Boston, MA, USA


The mechanism during apoptosis by which cytochrome c is rapidly and completely released in the absence of mitochondrial swelling is uncertain. Here, we show that two distinct pathways are involved. One mediates release of cytochrome c across the outer mitochondrial membrane, and another, characterized in this study, is responsible for the redistribution of cytochrome c stored in intramitochondrial cristae. We have found that the "BH3-only" molecule tBID induces a striking remodeling of mitochondrial structure with mobilization of the cytochrome c stores (approximately 85%) in cristae. This reorganization does not require tBID's BH3 domain and is independent of BAK, but is inhibited by CsA. During this process, individual cristae become fused and the junctions between the cristae and the intermembrane space are opened.

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