Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Apoptotic protease activating factor-1 (Apaf-1) has been identified as a proximal activator of caspase-9 in cell death pathways that trigger mitochondrial damage and cytochrome c release. The mechanism of Apaf-1 action is unclear but has been proposed to involve the clustering of caspase-9 molecules, thereby facilitating autoprocessing of adjacent zymogens. Here we show that Apaf-1 can dimerize via the CED-4 homologous and linker domains of the molecule providing a means by which Apaf-1 can promote the clustering of caspase-9 and facilitate its activation. Apaf-1 dimerization was repressed by the C-terminal half of the molecule, which contains multiple WD-40 repeats, but this repression was overcome in the presence of cytochrome c and dATP. Removal of the WD-40 repeat region resulted in a constitutively active Apaf-1 that exhibited greater cytotoxicity in transient transfection assays when compared with full-length Apaf-1. These data suggest a mechanism for Apaf-1 function and reveal an important regulatory role for the WD-40 repeat region.

Original publication




Journal article


The Journal of biological chemistry

Publication Date





20855 - 20860


Molecular Cell Biology Laboratory, Department of Biology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland.


Cell Line, Humans, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Caspases, Proteins, Apoptosis, Binding Sites, Enzyme Activation, Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid, Dimerization, Caspase 9, Apoptotic Protease-Activating Factor 1