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Injected cytochrome c induces apoptosis


Mitochondria, the cell's energy-producing organelles, are thought to play a central role in mediating apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Mitochondrial morphology remains intact during the process, the apoptosis-blocking protein Bcl-2 is localized in the outer mitochondrial membrane1, several critical steps in the process require ATP2, and mitochondrial ‘megachannels’ or ‘permeability transitions’ open during apoptosis. It has been suggested that mitochondrial constituents leak out through these permeability transition channels, and activate the apoptotic machinery in the cytosol3. Here we show that the injection into cells of a key mitochondrial protein, cytochrome c, activates apoptosis.

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Figure 1: Effect of cytochrome c microinjection in NRK cells.
Figure 2: Morphology of microinjected NRK cells.


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Zhivotovsky, B., Orrenius, S., Brustugun, O. et al. Injected cytochrome c induces apoptosis. Nature 391, 449–450 (1998).

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