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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Sep 23;105(38):14453-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0807549105. Epub 2008 Sep 16.

Functional genetic screening reveals the role of mitochondrial cytochrome b as a mediator of FAS-induced apoptosis.

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Department of Cell Stress Biology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY 14263, USA.


Functional selection of genetic suppressor elements (GSEs), engineered gene fragments that interfere with the function of a particular gene product, was used to identify regulators of FAS-induced apoptosis. Chicken DF-1 cells expressing human FAS receptor and susceptible to FAS-induced apoptosis were infected with a GSE library consisting of randomly fragmented normalized chicken cDNAs in a replication-competent avian retroviral vector. Virus-producing cells were subjected to several rounds of selection using FAS agonistic antibodies, resulting in isolation of a set of GSEs conferring resistance to FAS-induced apoptosis. Surprisingly, one of the isolated GSEs encoded a 42 amino acid-long polypeptide derived from the C-terminal half of cytochrome b (Cyt b) encoded by the mitochondrial genome. Subsequent experiments showed that caspase 8-dependent cleavage of mitochondrial Cyt b and translocation of its C-terminal half into the cytoplasm occurred during FAS-induced apoptosis in both chicken and human cells. Ectopic cytoplasmic expression of either full-length Cyt b or its C-terminal half in several human cell lines induced apoptosis, which could be suppressed by the isolated GSE, but not by Bcl2 over-expression or Apaf-1 or cytochrome c knock-down. These results reveal a cytochrome c-independent branch of FAS-induced apoptosis involving cleavage and cytoplasmic release of mitochondrial Cyt b.

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