Bax/Bak promote sumoylation of DRP1 and its stable association with mitochondria during apoptotic cell death

Sylwia Wasiak, Rodolfo Zunino, Heidi M McBride
Journal of Cell Biology 2007 May 7, 177 (3): 439-50
Dynamin-related protein 1 (DRP1) plays an important role in mitochondrial fission at steady state and during apoptosis. Using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, we demonstrate that in healthy cells, yellow fluorescent protein (YFP)-DRP1 recycles between the cytoplasm and mitochondria with a half-time of 50 s. Strikingly, during apoptotic cell death, YFP-DRP1 undergoes a transition from rapid recycling to stable membrane association. The rapid cycling phase that characterizes the early stages of apoptosis is independent of Bax/Bak. However, after Bax recruitment to the mitochondrial membranes but before the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, YFP-DRP1 becomes locked on the membrane, resulting in undetectable fluorescence recovery. This second phase in DRP1 cycling is dependent on the presence of Bax/Bak but independent of hFis1 and mitochondrial fragmentation. Coincident with Bax activation, we detect a Bax/Bak-dependent stimulation of small ubiquitin-like modifier-1 conjugation to DRP1, a modification that correlates with the stable association of DRP1 with mitochondrial membranes. Altogether, these data demonstrate that the apoptotic machinery regulates the biochemical properties of DRP1 during cell death.

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