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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2011 Dec 2;415(4):533-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2011.10.037. Epub 2011 Oct 25.

Activation of mitochondrial μ-calpain increases AIF cleavage in cardiac mitochondria during ischemia-reperfusion.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, United States.


Ubiquitous calpains (calpain I and II) are generally recognized as cytosolic proteins. Recently, mitochondrial localized calpain I (μ-calpain) has been identified. Activation of mito-μ-calpain cleaves apoptosis inducing factor (AIF), a flavoprotein located within the mitochondrial intermembrane space, in liver mitochondria, but not in brain mitochondria. We first tested if activation of mito-μ-calpain cleaves AIF in isolated heart mitochondria. A decrease in AIF content within mitochondria increases cardiac injury during ischemia-reperfusion by augmenting oxidative stress. We hypothesize that the activation of mito-μ-calpain by calcium overload during ischemia-reperfusion results in decreased AIF content within mitochondria by cleaving AIF. The μ-calpain was present within mouse heart mitochondria, mostly in the intermembrane space. Exogenous calcium treatment induced a calpain-dependent decrease of mitochondrial AIF content in isolated mouse heart mitochondria. This process was blocked by a calpain inhibitor (MDL-28170). The Mitochondrial μ-calpain activity was increased by 160 ± 15% during ischemia-reperfusion compared to time control. In contrast, the mitochondrial AIF content was decreased by 52 ± 7% during reperfusion vs. time control in the buffer perfused mouse heart. Inhibition of mito-μ-calpain using MDL-28170 decreased cardiac injury by preserving AIF content within mitochondria during ischemia-reperfusion. Thus, activation of mito-μ-calpain is required to release AIF from cardiac mitochondria. Inhibition of calpains using MDL-28170 decreases cardiac injury by inhibiting both cytosolic calpains and mito-μ-calpain during ischemia-reperfusion.

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