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ASN Neuro. 2009 Nov 18;1(5). pii: e00021. doi: 10.1042/AN20090046.

Outer mitochondrial membrane localization of apoptosis-inducing factor: mechanistic implications for release.

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1
double daggerCentre for Molecular Biology and Neuroscience, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo, POB 1105, Blindern, N-0317, Oslo, Norway.

Abstract

Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1-dependent cell death (known as parthanatos) plays a pivotal role in many clinically important events including ischaemia/reperfusion injury and glutamate excitotoxicity. A recent study by us has shown that uncleaved AIF (apoptosis-inducing factor), but not calpain-hydrolysed truncated-AIF, was rapidly released from the mitochondria during parthanatos, implicating a second pool of AIF that might be present in brain mitochondria contributing to the rapid release. In the present study, a novel AIF pool is revealed in brain mitochondria by multiple biochemical analyses. Approx. 30% of AIF loosely associates with the outer mitochondrial membrane on the cytosolic side, in addition to its main localization in the mitochondrial intermembrane space attached to the inner membrane. Immunogold electron microscopic analysis of mouse brain further supports AIF association with the outer, as well as the inner, mitochondrial membrane in vivo. In line with these observations, approx. 20% of uncleaved AIF rapidly translocates to the nucleus and functionally causes neuronal death upon NMDA (N-methyl-d-aspartate) treatment. In the present study we show for the first time a second pool of AIF in brain mitochondria and demonstrate that this pool does not require cleavage and that it contributes to the rapid release of AIF. Moreover, these results suggest that this outer mitochondrial pool of AIF is sufficient to cause cell death during parthanatos. Interfering with the release of this outer mitochondrial pool of AIF during cell injury paradigms that use parthanatos hold particular promise for novel therapies to treat neurological disorders.

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