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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2008 Jul;9(7):532-42. doi: 10.1038/nrm2434.

Cytochrome c: functions beyond respiration.

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The Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research, Ontario Cancer Institute, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2C1, Canada.


Cytochrome c is primarily known for its function in the mitochondria as a key participant in the life-supporting function of ATP synthesis. However, when a cell receives an apoptotic stimulus, cytochrome c is released into the cytosol and triggers programmed cell death through apoptosis. The release of cytochrome c and cytochrome-c-mediated apoptosis are controlled by multiple layers of regulation, the most prominent players being members of the B-cell lymphoma protein-2 (BCL2) family. As well as its role in canonical intrinsic apoptosis, cytochrome c amplifies signals that are generated by other apoptotic pathways and participates in certain non-apoptotic functions.

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