Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 69, Issue 11, pp 1787–1797 | Cite as

Cytochrome c: the Achilles’ heel in apoptosis

  • A. V. Kulikov
  • E. S. Shilov
  • I. A. Mufazalov
  • V. Gogvadze
  • S. A. Nedospasov
  • B. Zhivotovsky


Cytochrome c is a well-known mitochondrial protein that fulfills life-supporting functions by transferring electrons to the respiratory chain to maintain ATP production. However, during the activation of apoptotic machinery, it is released from mitochondria and, being in the cytosol, it either triggers the activation of the caspase cascade in intrinsic apoptotic pathway, or it is involved in the amplification of extrinsic apoptotic signaling. Accumulating evidence suggests that only unmodified holocytochrome c is efficient in the stimulation of apoptosis. Considering the importance of cytochrome c in both life and death, it was of significant interest to investigate the complete or partial cytochrome c deficiency in vivo. Here, we discuss the importance of distinct amino acid residues for various functions of cytochrome c in cells and mice with targeted cytochrome c mutations.


Cytochrome c Mutagenesis Knockout Respiration Apoptosis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. V. Kulikov
    • 1
  • E. S. Shilov
    • 1
    • 2
  • I. A. Mufazalov
    • 3
    • 4
  • V. Gogvadze
    • 1
    • 5
  • S. A. Nedospasov
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • B. Zhivotovsky
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Faculty of Fundamental MedicineLomonosov Moscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  2. 2.Faculty of BiologyLomonosov Moscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  3. 3.Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical BiologyLomonosov Moscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  4. 4.Engelhardt Institute of Molecular BiologyRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  5. 5.Division of ToxicologyInstitute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden

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