BH3 Death Domain Peptide Induces Cell Type-selective Mitochondrial Outer Membrane Permeability

Brian M. Polster, Kathleen W. Kinnally, Gary Fiskum

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The BH3 domain is essential for the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria by pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins during apoptosis. This study tested the hypothesis that a Bax peptide that includes the BH3 domain can permeabilize the mitochondrial outer membrane and release cytochrome c in the absence of a permeability transition at the mitochondrial inner membrane. BH3 peptide (0.1-60 μM) released cytochrome c from mitochondria in the presence of physiological concentrations of ions in a cell type-selective manner, whereas a BH3 peptide with a single amino acid substitution was ineffective. The release of cytochrome c by BH3 peptide correlated with the presence of endogenous Bax at the mitochondria and its integral membrane insertion. Cytochrome c release was accompanied by adenylate kinase release, was not associated with mitochondrial swelling or substantial loss of electrical potential across the inner membrane, and was unaffected by inhibitors of the permeability transition pore. Cytochrome c release was, however, inhibited by Bcl-2. Although energy-coupled respiration was inhibited after the release of cytochrome c, mitochondria maintained membrane potential in the presence of ATP due to the reversal of the ATP synthase. Overall, results support the hypothesis that BH3 peptide releases cytochrome c by a Bax-dependent process that is independent of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore but regulated by Bcl-2.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)37887-37894
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
    Issue number41
    StatePublished - Oct 12 2001

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Biochemistry
    • Molecular Biology
    • Cell Biology


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