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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2007 May 18;356(4):993-7. Epub 2007 Mar 26.

Evolution of mitochondrial cell death pathway: Proapoptotic role of HtrA2/Omi in Drosophila.

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Department of Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine, 295 Congress Avenue, New Haven, CT 06536, USA.


Despite the essential role of mitochondria in a variety of mammalian cell death processes, the involvement of mitochondrial pathway in Drosophila cell death has remained unclear. To address this, we cloned and characterized DmHtrA2, a Drosophila homolog of a mitochondrial serine protease HtrA2/Omi. We show that DmHtrA2 normally resides in mitochondria and is up-regulated by UV-irradiation. Upon receipt of apoptotic stimuli, DmHtrA2 is translocated to extramitochondrial compartment; however, unlike its mammalian counterpart, the extramitochondrial DmHtrA2 does not diffuse throughout the cytosol but stays near the mitochondria. RNAi-mediated knock-down of DmHtrA2 in larvae or adult flies results in a resistance to stress stimuli. DmHtrA2 specifically cleaves Drosophila inhibitor-of-apoptosis protein 1 (DIAP1), a cellular caspase inhibitor, and induces cell death both in vitro and in vivo as potent as other fly cell death proteins. Our observations suggest that DmHtrA2 promotes cell death through a cleavage of DIAP1 in the vicinity of mitochondria, which may represent a prototype of mitochondrial cell death pathway in evolution.

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