Inhibiting Drp1-mediated mitochondrial fission selectively prevents the release of cytochrome c during apoptosis

J Estaquier, D Arnoult
Cell Death and Differentiation 2007, 14 (6): 1086-94
Most cell death stimuli trigger the mitochondrial release of cytochrome c and other cofactors that induce caspase activation and ensuing apoptosis. Apoptosis is also associated with massive mitochondrial fragmentation and cristae remodeling. Dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1), a protein of the mitochondrial fission machinery, has been reported to participate in apoptotic mitochondrial fragmentation. Several theories explaining the mechanisms of cytochrome c release have been proposed. One suggests that it relies on the activation of Drp1-mediated mitochondrial fission. Here, we report that downregulation of Drp1 inhibits fragmentation of the mitochondrial network and partially prevents the release of cytochrome c but fails to prevent the release of other mitochondrial factors such as second mitochondria-derived activator of caspase/direct IAP-binding protein with low pI, Omi/HtrA2, adenylate kinase 2 and deafness dystonia peptide/TIMM8a. An explanation for the prevention of cytochrome c release is provided by our observation that inhibiting Drp1-mediated mitochondrial fission prevents the mitochondrial release of soluble OPA1 that was proposed to regulate cristae remodeling and complete cytochrome c release during apoptosis. Finally, we observed that downregulation of Drp1 delays but does not inhibit apoptosis, suggesting that mitochondrial fragmentation is not a prerequisite for apoptosis.

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