Gap junctions remain open during cytochrome c-induced cell death: Relationship of conductance to 'bystander' cell killing

K. Cusato, H. Ripps, J. Zakevicius, D. C. Spray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations


Previous reports have shown that gap junctions relay cell death in many cell types. However, changes in electrical coupling and their dynamics during cell death are poorly understood. We performed comprehensive studies of electrical coupling following induction of cell death by single-cell cytochrome c (cyC) injection in paired Xenopus oocytes. Cell death was rapidly induced by cyC in injected cells, and cell death was also observed in uninjected bystander cells electrically coupled to the cyC-injected oocytes. Gap junction currents either remained at pre-cyC injection levels or increased dramatically as the injected cell died. Nonjunctional currents increased in injected cells immediately following cyC injection; nonjunctional currents increased slowly in uninjected bystander cells. Bystander cell death occurred only when junctional conductance was ∼6 μS. Both 1,2-bis-(o-aminophenoxy)-ethane-N,N,-N′,N′-tetraacetic acid tetraacetoxy-methyl ester and Xestospongin C inhibited bystander cell death in pairs that had reached the death conductance threshold, suggesting that Ca2+ and inositol 1,4,5 triphosphate are involved in the process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1707-1714
Number of pages8
JournalCell Death and Differentiation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2006



  • Bystander effect
  • Cell death
  • Gap junctions
  • Intercellular communication
  • Xenopus oocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

Cite this