Background/Aims: Augmenter of liver regeneration (ALR), a protein synthesized and stored in hepatocytes, is associated with mitochondria, and possesses sulfhydryl oxidase and cytochrome c reductase activities. We sought to determine the effects of ALR depletion in hepatocytes by antisense oligonucleotide transfection. Methods: Rat hepatocytes in primary culture were transfected with antisense oligonucleotide for ALR mRNA (ALR-AS) or scrambled oligonucleotide. Various analyses were performed at times up to 24 h after transfection. Results: Treatment with ALR-AS caused a decrease in ALR mRNA, cellular depletion of ALR protein primarily from mitochondria, and decreased viability. Flow cytometric analysis of ALR-AS-transfected hepatocytes stained with annexin-Vcy3and 7-aminoactinomycin D revealed apoptosis as the predominant cause of death up to 6 h; incubation beyond this time resulted in necrosis in addition to apoptosis. ALR-AS-transfection caused release of mitochondrial cytochrome c, activation of caspase-3, profound reduction in the ATP content, and cellular release of LDH. Inhibition of caspase-3 inhibited the early phase of ALR-AS-induced death but not the late phase that included ALR and LDH release. Conclusions: These results suggest that ALR is critically important for the survival of hepatocytes by its association with mitochondria and regulation of ATP synthesis. © 2008 European Association for the Study of the Liver
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