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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2003 May 9;304(3):487-97.

Mitochondrial intermembrane proteins in cell death.

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Molecular Signaling and Cell Death Unit, Department of Molecular Biomedical Research, VIB and Ghent University, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.


Apoptosis is a form of programmed cell death important in the development and tissue homeostasis of multicellular organisms. Mitochondria have, next to their function in respiration, an important role in the apoptotic-signaling pathway. Malfunctioning at any level of the cell is eventually translated in the release of apoptogenic factors from the mitochondrial intermembrane space resulting in the organized demise of the cell. Some of these factors, such as AIF and endonuclease G, appear to be highly conserved during evolution. Other factors, like cytochrome c, have gained their apoptogenic function later during evolution. In this review, we focus on the role of cytochrome c, AIF, endonuclease G, Smac/DIABLO, Omi/HtrA2, Acyl-CoA-binding protein, and polypyrimidine tract-binding protein in the initiation and modulation of cell death in different model organisms. These mitochondrial factors may contribute to both caspase-dependent and caspase-independent processes in apoptotic cell death.

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