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J Biol Chem. 2009 Apr 10;284(15):9692-9. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M808750200. Epub 2009 Feb 19.

Cyclophilin D interacts with Bcl2 and exerts an anti-apoptotic effect.

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Center for Musculoskeletal Research and Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.


Cyclophilin D (CypD) is a mitochondrial immunophilin and a key positive regulator of the mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT). Several reports have shown that CypD is overexpressed in various tumors, where it has an anti-apoptotic effect. Because the MPT is a cell death-inducing phenomenon, we hypothesized that the anti-apoptotic effect of CypD is independent of the MPT but is due to its interaction with some key apoptosis regulator, such as Bcl2. Our data indicate that CypD indeed interacts with Bcl2 as confirmed with co-immunoprecipitation, pulldown, and mammalian two-hybrid assays. A cyclophilin D inhibitor, cyclosporine A, disrupts the CypD-Bcl2 interaction. CypD enhances the limiting effect of Bcl2 on the tBid-induced release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, which is not mediated via the MPT. Gain- and loss-of-function experiments confirm that CypD has a limiting effect on cytochrome c release from mitochondria and that such an effect of CypD is cyclosporine A- and Bcl2-dependent. On a cellular level, overexpression or knockdown of CypD respectively decreases or increases cytochrome c release from mitochondria and overall cell sensitivity to apoptosis progressing via the "intrinsic" pathway. Therefore, we here describe a novel function of CypD as a Bcl2 collaborator and an inhibitor of cytochrome c release from mitochondria independent of the MPT. This function of CypD may explain the anti-apoptotic effect of this protein observed in various cancer cells. The fact that some tumors overexpress CypD suggests that this may be an additional mechanism of suppression of apoptosis in cancer.

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