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Cell Death Differ. 2006 Aug;13(8):1387-95. Epub 2006 May 5.

Is MAC the knife that cuts cytochrome c from mitochondria during apoptosis?

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Department of Basic Sciences, College of Dentistry, New York University, NY 10010, USA.


Apoptosis is a phenomenon fundamental to higher eukaryotes and essential to mechanisms controlling tissue homeostasis. Bcl-2 family proteins tightly control this cell death program by regulating the permeabilization of the mitochondrial outer membrane and, hence, the release of cytochrome c and other proapoptotic factors. Mitochondrial apoptosis-induced channel (MAC) is the mitochondrial apoptosis-induced channel and is responsible for cytochrome c release early in apoptosis. MAC activity is detected by patch clamping mitochondria at the time of cytochrome c release. The Bcl-2 family proteins regulate apoptosis by controlling the formation of MAC. Depending on cell type and apoptotic inducer, Bax and/or Bak are structural component(s) of MAC. Overexpression of the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-2 eliminates MAC activity. The focus of this review is a biophysical characterization of MAC activity and its regulation by Bcl-2 family proteins, and ends with some discussion of therapeutic targets.

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