Interspecies variation in the functional consequences of mutation of cytochrome c

Tracy M Josephs, Moira E Hibbs, Lily Ong, Ian M Morison, Elizabeth C Ledgerwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The naturally occurring human cytochrome c variant (G41S) is associated with a mild autosomal dominant thrombocytopenia (Thrombocytopenia Cargeeg) caused by dysregulation of platelet production. The molecular basis of the platelet production defect is unknown. Despite high conservation of cytochrome c between human and mouse (91.4 identity), introducing the G41S mutation into mouse cytochrome c in a knockin mouse (CycsG41S/G41S) did not recapitulate the low platelet phenotype of Thrombocytopenia Cargeeg. While investigating the cause of this disparity we found a lack of conservation of the functional impact of cytochrome c mutations on caspase activation across species. Mutation of cytochrome c at residue 41 has distinct effects on the ability of cytochrome c to activate caspases depending on the species of both the cytochrome c and its binding partner Apaf-1. In contrast to our previous results showing the G41S mutation increases the ability of human cytochrome c to activate caspases, here we find this activity is decreased in mouse G41S cytochrome c. Additionally unlike wildtype human cytochrome c, G41S cytochrome c is unable to activate caspases in Xenopus embryo extracts. Taken together these results demonstrate a previously unreported species-specific component to the interaction of cytochrome c with Apaf-1. This suggests that the electrostatic interaction between cytochrome c and Apaf-1 is not the sole determinant of binding, with additional factors controlling binding specificity and affinity. These results have important implications for studies of the effects of cytochrome c mutations on the intrinsic apoptosis pathway.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0130292
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Cite this