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Exp Cell Res. 2003 Oct 1;289(2):195-210.

Retroactive pathway involving mitochondria in electroloaded cytochrome c-induced apoptosis. Protective properties of Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL.

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Institut de Pharmacologie et Biologie Structurale-CNRS, UMR 5089, 205, Route de Narbonne, 31077 Toulouse Cedex 04, France.


Cytochrome c release is thought to play an important role in the initiation of apoptosis. The nature of the control exerted by Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL on such a pathway is not precisely known. We addressed this issue by square-wave pulse electroloading of exogenous cytochrome c into Jurkat cells. Three hours after cytochrome c loading into the cells, characteristic phenotypes of apoptosis were observed. However, a significant drop in the mitochondrial membrane potential (Deltapsim) was also observed, while cytochrome c was generally considered to act downstream from the mitochondria. Related to the Deltapsim drop, there was a release of proapoptotic proteins such as AIF and Smac from the mitochondria. This release, as well as NAD(P)H and cardiolipids oxidation, are linked to previous caspase activation. Cytochrome c-linked caspase activation also led to potassium efflux out of the cell. Overexpression of Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL or N-acetyl-DEVD-aldehyde treatment not only prevented the mitochondrial membrane potential decrease, but also protected cells from the apoptosis directly induced by cytochrome c electroloading. Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL protection is based on the inhibition of the caspase-dependent retroactive pathway affecting the mitochondrial compartment.

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