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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2012 Jun;69(11):1787-97. doi: 10.1007/s00018-011-0895-z. Epub 2011 Dec 17.

Cytochrome c: the Achilles' heel in apoptosis.

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Faculty of Fundamental Medicine, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia.


Cytochrome c is a well-known mitochondrial protein that fulfills life-supporting functions by transferring electrons to the respiratory chain to maintain ATP production. However, during the activation of apoptotic machinery, it is released from mitochondria and, being in the cytosol, it either triggers the activation of the caspase cascade in intrinsic apoptotic pathway, or it is involved in the amplification of extrinsic apoptotic signaling. Accumulating evidence suggests that only unmodified holocytochrome c is efficient in the stimulation of apoptosis. Considering the importance of cytochrome c in both life and death, it was of significant interest to investigate the complete or partial cytochrome c deficiency in vivo. Here, we discuss the importance of distinct amino acid residues for various functions of cytochrome c in cells and mice with targeted cytochrome c mutations.

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