Date of this Version
Cell Health Cytoskelet. 2012 February 1; 2012(4): 11–27.
Flavoproteins catalyze a variety of reactions utilizing flavin mononucleotide or flavin adenine dinucleotide as cofactors. The oxidoreductase properties of flavoenzymes implicate them in redox homeostasis, oxidative stress, and various cellular processes, including programmed cell death. Here we explore three critical flavoproteins involved in apoptosis and redox signaling, ie, apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF), proline dehydrogenase, and NADPH oxidase. These proteins have diverse biochemical functions and influence apoptotic signaling by unique mechanisms. The role of AIF in apoptotic signaling is two-fold, with AIF changing intracellular location from the inner mitochondrial membrane space to the nucleus upon exposure of cells to apoptotic stimuli. In the mitochondria, AIF enhances mitochondrial bioenergetics and complex I activity/assembly to help maintain proper cellular redox homeostasis. After translocating to the nucleus, AIF forms a chromatin degrading complex with other proteins, such as cyclophilin A. AIF translocation from the mitochondria to the nucleus is triggered by oxidative stress, implicating AIF as a mitochondrial redox sensor. Proline dehydrogenase is a membrane-associated flavoenzyme in the mitochondrion that catalyzes the rate-limiting step of proline oxidation. Upregulation of proline dehydrogenase by the tumor suppressor, p53, leads to enhanced mitochondrial reactive oxygen species that induce the intrinsic apoptotic pathway. NADPH oxidases are a group of enzymes that generate reactive oxygen species for oxidative stress and signaling purposes. Upon activation, NADPH oxidase 2 generates a burst of superoxide in neutrophils that leads to killing of microbes during phagocytosis. NADPH oxidases also participate in redox signaling that involves hydrogen peroxide-mediated activation of different pathways regulating cell proliferation and cell death. Potential therapeutic strategies for each enzyme are also highlighted.