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Neuron. 1998 Oct;21(4):695-705.

Evidence of a novel event during neuronal death: development of competence-to-die in response to cytoplasmic cytochrome c.

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Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Sympathetic neurons undergoing programmed cell death after nerve growth factor (NGF) deprivation are shown to exhibit a protein synthesis-dependent, BAX-dependent loss of cytochrome c from the mitochondria. However, cytoplasmic microinjection of cytochrome c was insufficient to induce cell death in NGF-maintained sympathetic neurons. In contrast, microinjection of cytochrome c rapidly induced a caspase-dependent death in NGF-deprived, Bax-deficient or NGF-deprived, cycloheximide-treated neurons. Cells needed to be deprived of NGF for 15-20 hr before they acquired competence to die with injection of cytochrome c. These data suggest that NGF deprivation induced the translocation of cytochrome c and another event, which we term as competence-to-die, that was independent of macromolecular synthesis and BAX function. Both these processes were required for neurons to undergo apoptosis.

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