Author(s): Maes ME, Grosser JA, Fehrman RL, Schlamp CL, Nickells RW. Completion of BAX recruitment correlates with mitochondrial fission during apoptosis. Sci Rep. 2019 Nov 12;9(1):16565. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-53049-w. PMID 31719602
Journal: Scientific Reports, Volume 9, Issue 1, Nov 2019
BAX, a member of the BCL2 gene family, controls the committed step of the intrinsic apoptotic program. Mitochondrial fragmentation is a commonly observed feature of apoptosis, which occurs through the process of mitochondrial fission. BAX has consistently been associated with mitochondrial fission, yet how BAX participates in the process of mitochondrial fragmentation during apoptosis remains to be tested. Time-lapse imaging of BAX recruitment and mitochondrial fragmentation demonstrates that rapid mitochondrial fragmentation during apoptosis occurs after the complete recruitment of BAX to the mitochondrial outer membrane (MOM). The requirement of a fully functioning BAX protein for the fission process was demonstrated further in BAX/BAK-deficient HCT116 cells expressing a P168A mutant of BAX. The mutant performed fusion to restore the mitochondrial network. but was not demonstrably recruited to the MOM after apoptosis induction. Under these conditions, mitochondrial fragmentation was blocked. Additionally, we show that loss of the fission protein, dynamin-like protein 1 (DRP1), does not temporally affect the initiation time or rate of BAX recruitment, but does reduce the final level of BAX recruited to the MOM during the late phase of BAX recruitment. These correlative observations suggest a model where late-stage BAX oligomers play a functional part of the mitochondrial fragmentation machinery in apoptotic cells.