"One of the mechanisms by which CELL DEATH occurs (compare with NECROSIS and AUTOPHAGOCYTOSIS). Apoptosis is the mechanism responsible for the physiological deletion of cells and appears to be intrinsically programmed. It is characterized by distinctive morphologic changes in the nucleus and cytoplasm, chromatin cleavage at regularly spaced sites, and the endonucleolytic cleavage of genomic DNA; ( DNA FRAGMENTATION); at internucleosomal sites. This mode of cell death serves as a balance to mitosis in regulating the size of animal tissues and in mediating pathologic processes associated with tumor growth." (Source: MeSH)
Cytochrome c is also released from mitochondria due to formation of a channel, the mitochondrial apoptosis-induced channel (MAC), in the outer mitochondrial membrane,  and serves a regulatory function as it precedes morphological change associated with apoptosis.  Once cytochrome c is released it binds with Apoptotic protease activating factor – 1 ( Apaf-1 ) and ATP , which then bind to pro-caspase-9 to create a protein complex known as an apoptosome . The apoptosome cleaves the pro-caspase to its active form of caspase-9 , which in turn activates the effector caspase-3 .