Peroxidation and externalization of phosphatidylserine associated with release of cytochrome c from mitochondria

Jianfei Jiang, Behice F. Serinkan, Yulia Y. Tyurina, Grigory G. Borisenko, Zhibao Mi, Paul D. Robbins, Alan J. Schroit, Valerian E. Kagan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) during apoptosis is associated with peroxidation of phospholipids particularly of phosphatidylserine (PS). The mechanism(s) underlying preferential PS oxidation are not well understood. We hypothesized that cytochrome c (cyt c) released from mitochondria into cytosol acts as a catalyst that utilizes ROS generated by disrupted mitochondrial electron transport for PS oxidation. Selectivity of PS oxidation is achieved via specific interactions of positively charged cyt c with negatively charged PS. To test the hypothesis we employed temporary transfection of Jurkat cells with a pro-apoptotic peptide, DP1, a conjugate consisting of a protein transduction domain, PTD-5, and an antimicrobial domain, KLA [(KLAKLAK) 2], known to selectively disrupt mitochondria. We report that treatment of Jurkat cells with DP1 yielded rapid and effective release of cyt c from mitochondria and its accumulation in cytosol accompanied by production of H2O2. Remarkably, this resulted in selective peroxidation of PS while more abundant phospholipids such as phosphatidylcholine (PC) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) remained nonoxidized. Neither PTD-5 alone nor KLA alone exerted any effect on PS peroxidation. Redox catalytic involvement of cyt c in PS oxidation was further supported by our data demonstrating that: (i) specific interactions of cyt c with PS resulted in the formation of EPR-detectable protein-centered tyrosyl radicals of cyt c upon its interaction with H2O2 in the presence of PS-containing liposomes, and (ii) integration of cyt c into cytochrome c null (Cyt c -/-) cells or HL-60 cells specifically stimulates PS oxidation in the presence of H 2O2 or t-BuOOH, respectively. We further demonstrated that DP1 elicited externalization of PS on the surface of Jurkat cells and enhanced their recognition and phagocytosis by J774A.1 macrophages. Our results are compatible with the hypothesis that catalysis of selective PS oxidation during apoptosis by cytosolic cyt c is important for PS-dependent signaling pathways such as PS externalization and recognition by macrophage receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)814-825
Number of pages12
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NIH HL70755.


  • Cyt c-/- cells
  • Cytochrome c
  • Free radicals
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Mitochondria
  • Phosphatidylserine externalization
  • Phosphatidylserine oxidation
  • Pro-apoptotic peptide DP1


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