Bcl-2 is an integral membrane protein located mainly on the outer membrane of mitochondria. Overexpression of Bcl-2 prevents cells from undergoing apoptosis in response to a variety of stimuli. Cytosolic cytochrome c is necessary for the initiation of the apoptotic program, suggesting a possible connection between Bcl-2 and cytochrome c, which is normally located in the mitochondrial intermembrane space. Cells undergoing apoptosis were found to have an elevation of cytochrome c in the cytosol and a corresponding decrease in the mitochondria. Overexpression of Bcl-2 prevented the efflux of cytochrome c from the mitochondria and the initiation of apoptosis. Thus, one possible role of Bcl-2 in prevention of apoptosis is to block cytochrome c release from mitochondria.
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