Electrostatic Constituents of the Interaction of Cardiolipin with Site A of Cytochrome c

Margaret M. Elmer-Dixon, Bruce E. Bowler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Cytochrome c binds to cardiolipin (CL) on the inner mitochondrial membrane during the initial stages of apoptosis where it oxidizes CL, promoting its release into the cytoplasm where it initiates apoptosis. Previous work has identified interaction sites on cytochrome c involved in the cytochrome c-CL interaction. The contributions of the lysines attributed to site A, the anionic site, are studied here to elucidate the relative importance of each for electrostatic interaction of cytochrome c with CL at pH 8, conditions where site A is dominant. A set of single, double, and quadruple lysine to alanine variants of yeast iso-1-cytochrome c, at sequence positions 72, 73, 86, and 87, show that all contribute to the site A-mediated interaction with CL. All variants experience two sequential structural rearrangements as the lipid to protein ratio (LPR) increases. At a low LPR near 10, all variants undergo a small heme-centered structural change detected by Soret circular dichroism. At higher LPRs ranging from 22 to 34, all variants partially unfold as detected by Trp59 emission. The robustness of the mechanism of interaction to sequential neutralization of the four lysines assigned to site A demonstrates that site A is more extensive than previously supposed. The nature of both structural rearrangements also depends on which lysines constitute site A. The peroxidase activity of cytochrome c in the early stages of apoptosis depends on the nature of structural rearrangement near the heme. Thus, the lysines that comprise site A may have evolved to optimize the peroxidase signaling switch.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5683-5695
Number of pages13
Issue number39
StatePublished - Oct 2 2018


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