Mitochondrial death pathways in yeast and mammalian cells

Wen Chih Cheng, Kelly M. Leach, J. Marie Hardwick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In mammals, mitochondria are important mediators of programmed cell death, and this process is often regulated by Bcl-2 family proteins. However, a role for mitochondria-mediated cell death in non-mammalian species is more controversial. New evidence from a variety of sources suggests that mammalian mitochondrial fission/division proteins also have the capacity to promote programmed cell death, which may involve interactions with Bcl-2 family proteins. Homologues of these fission factors and several additional mammalian cell death regulators are conserved in flies, worms and yeast, and have been suggested to regulate programmed cell death in these species as well. However, the molecular mechanisms by which these phylogenetically conserved proteins contribute to cell death are not known for any species. Some have taken the conserved pro-death activity of mitochondrial fission factors to mean that mitochondrial fission per se, or failed attempts to undergo fission, are directly involved in cell death. Other evidence suggests that the fission function and the cell death function of these factors are separable. Here we consider the evidence for these arguments and their implications regarding the origins of programmed cell death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1272-1279
Number of pages8
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Caspase
  • Cytochrome c
  • Dnm1
  • Drp1
  • Fission
  • Fragmentation
  • Fusion
  • Metacaspase">
  • Mitochondria
  • Yeast apoptosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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