Author(s): Cepero E, King AM, Coffey LM, Perez RG, Boise LH
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Abstract Proapoptotic Bcl-2 family members alter mitochondrial permeability resulting in the release of apoptogenic factors that initiate a caspase cascade. These changes are well described; however, the effects of caspases on mitochondrial function are less well characterized. Here we describe the consequence of caspase-9 and effector caspase inhibition on mitochondrial physiology during intrinsic cell death. Caspase inhibition prevents the complete loss of mitochondrial membrane potential without affecting cytochrome c release. When effector caspases are inhibited, mitochondria become uncoupled and produce reactive oxygen species. Interestingly, the effector caspase-mediated depolarization of the mitochondria occurs independent of the activity of complexes I-IV of the electron transport chain. In contrast, caspase-9 inhibition prevents mitochondrial uncoupling and ROS production and allows for continued electron transport despite the release of cytochrome c. Taken together, these data suggest that activated caspase-9 prevents the accessibility of cytochrome c to complex III, resulting in the production of reactive oxygen species, and that effector caspases may depolarize mitochondria to terminate ROS production and preserve an apoptotic phenotype.
This article was published in Oncogene
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy