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Keywords:

  • apoptosis;
  • ATP;
  • cerebellar granule cells;
  • cytochrome c release;
  • mitochondria;
  • necrosis

Abstract

In rat cerebellar granule cells, cytochrome c release takes place during glutamate toxicity and apoptosis due to deprivation of depolarising levels of potassium. We show that, as in necrosis, the released cytochrome c present in the cytosolic fraction obtained from cerebellar granule cells undergoing apoptosis can operate as a reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenger and as a respiratory substrate. The capability of the cytosolic fraction containing cytochrome c, obtained from cerebellar granule cells undergoing either necrosis or apoptosis, to energise coupled mitochondria isolated by the same cells is also investigated. We show that, in both cases, the cytosolic fraction containing cytochrome c, added to mitochondria, can cause proton ejection, and membrane potential generation and can drive ATP synthesis and export in the extramitochondrial phase, as photometrically measured via the ATP detecting system.

Cytochrome c, separated immunologically from the cytosolic fraction of apoptotic cells when added to mitochondria, is found to cause proton ejection to generate membrane potential and to drive ATP synthesis and export in a manner not sensitive to the further addition of the cytosolic fraction depleted of cytochrome c, which failed to do this. In the light of these findings we propose that in apoptosis the released cytochrome c can contribute to provide ATP required for the cell programmed death to occur.