Author(s): Grosser JA, Fehrman RL, Keefe D, Redmon M, Nickells RW. The effects of a mitochondrial targeted peptide (elamipretide/SS31) on BAX recruitment and activation during apoptosis. BMC Res Notes. 2021 May 22;14(1):198. doi: 10.1186/s13104-021-05613-9. PMID 34022923
Journal: Bmc Research Notes, Volume 14, Issue 1, May 2021
OBJECTIVE Elamipretide (SS31) is a mitochondria-targeted peptide that has reported functions of stabilizing mitochondrial cristae structure and improving mitochondrial bioenergetics. Several studies have documented cell protective features of this peptide, including impairment of intrinsic apoptosis by inhibiting the recruitment and activation of the pro-apoptotic BAX protein. We used live-cell imaging of ARPE-19 cells expressing fluorescently labeled BAX, cytochrome c, and a mitochondrial marker to investigate the effect of elamipretide on the kinetics of BAX recruitment, mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (as a function of cytochrome c release), and mitochondrial fragmentation, respectively.
RESULT In nucleofected and plated ARPE-19 cells, elamipretide accelerated the formation of larger mitochondria. In the presence of the apoptotic stimulator, staurosporine, cells treated with elamipretide exhibited moderately slower rates of BAX recruitment. Peptide treatment, however, did not significantly delay the onset of BAX recruitment or the final total amount of BAX that was recruited. Additionally, elamipretide showed no impairment or delay of cytochrome c release or mitochondrial fragmentation, two events associated with normal BAX activation during cell death. These results indicate that the protective effect of elamipretide is not at the level of BAX activity to induce pro-apoptotic mitochondrial dysfunction after the initiation of staurosporine-induced apoptosis.