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Mol Cell. 2008 Aug 22;31(4):557-69. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2008.07.010. Epub 2008 Aug 7.

Opa1-mediated cristae opening is Bax/Bak and BH3 dependent, required for apoptosis, and independent of Bak oligomerization.

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La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, 9420 Athena Circle, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Controversy surrounds the role and mechanism of mitochondrial cristae remodeling in apoptosis. Here we show that the proapoptotic BH3-only proteins Bid and Bim induced full cytochrome c release but only a subtle alteration of crista junctions, which involved the disassembly of Opa1 complexes. Both mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP) and crista junction opening (CJO) were caspase independent and required a functional BH3 domain and Bax/Bak. However, MOMP and CJO were experimentally separable. Pharmacological blockade of MOMP did not prevent Opa1 disassembly and CJO; moreover, expression of a disassembly-resistant mutant Opa1 (Q297V) blocked cytochrome c release and apoptosis but not Bax activation. Thus, apoptosis requires a subtle form of Opa1-dependent crista remodeling that is induced by BH3-only proteins and Bax/Bak but independent of MOMP.

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