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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1998 Aug 10;1366(1-2):79-94.

Elucidating the molecular mechanism of the permeability transition pore and its role in reperfusion injury of the heart.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TD,


First, we present a summary of the evidence for our model of the molecular mechanism of the permeability transition (MPT). Our proposal is that the MPT occurs as a result of the binding of mitochondrial cyclophilin (CyP-D) to the adenine nucleotide translocase (ANT) in the inner mitochondrial membrane. This binding is enhanced by thiol modification of the ANT caused by oxidative stress or other thiol reagents. CyP-D binding enhances the ability of the ANT to undergo a conformational change triggered by Ca2+. Binding of ADP or ATP to a matrix site of the ANT antagonises this effect of Ca2+; modification of other ANT thiol groups inhibits ADP binding and sensitises the MPT to [Ca2+]. Increased membrane potential changes the ANT conformation to enhance ATP binding and hence inhibit the MPT. Our most recent data shows that a fusion protein of CyP-D and glutathione-S-transferase immobilised to Sepharose specifically binds the ANT from Triton-solubilised inner mitochondrial membranes in a cyclosporin A (CsA) sensitive manner. Second we summarise the evidence for the MPT being a major factor in the transition from reversible to irreversible injury during reperfusion of a heart following a period of ischaemia. We describe how in the perfused heart [3H]deoxyglucose entrapment within mitochondria can be used to measure the opening of MPT pore in situ. During ischaemia pore opening does not occur, but significant opening does occur during reperfusion, and recovery of the heart is dependent on subsequent pore closure. Pore opening is inhibited by the presence in the perfusion medium of pyruvate and the anaesthetic propofol which both protect the heart from reperfusion injury. Third we discuss how the MPT may be involved in determining whether cell death occurs by necrosis (extensive pore opening and ATP depletion) or apoptosis (transient pore opening with maintenance of ATP).

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