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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2009 Oct;41(10):1884-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2009.05.001. Epub 2009 May 9.

Mitochondrial outer-membrane permeabilization and remodelling in apoptosis.

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Department of Cell Biology, University of Geneva, Quai Ernest-Ansermet 30, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland.


Many human pathologies are associated with defects in mitochondria such as diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases or cancer. This tiny organelle is involved in a plethora of processes in mammalian cells, including energy production, lipid metabolism and cell death. In the so-called intrinsic apoptotic pathway, the outer mitochondrial membrane (MOM) is premeabilized by the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 members Bax and Bak, allowing the release of apoptogenic factors such as cytochrome c from the inter-membrane space into the cytosol. At the same time, mitochondria fragment in response to Drp-1 activation suggesting that mitochondrial fission could play a role in mitochondrial outer-membrane permeabilization (MOMP). In this review, we will discuss the link that could exist between mitochondrial fission and fusion machinery, Bcl-2 family members and MOMP.

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