Electron carrier protein. The oxidized form of the cytochrome c heme group can accept an electron from the heme group of the cytochrome c1 subunit of cytochrome reductase. Cytochrome c then transfers this electron to the cytochrome oxidase complex, the final protein carrier in the mitochondrial electron-transport chain. Plays a role in apoptosis. Suppression of the anti-apoptotic members or activation of the pro-apoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family leads to altered mitochondrial membrane permeability resulting in release of cytochrome c into the cytosol. Binding of cytochrome c to Apaf-1 triggers the activation of caspase-9, which then accelerates apoptosis by activating other caspases.