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Mol Neurobiol. 2010 Aug;42(1):4-9. doi: 10.1007/s12035-010-8125-5. Epub 2010 Jun 16.

"Where, O death, is thy sting?" A brief review of apoptosis biology.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB21QP, UK.


Apoptosis was a term introduced in 1972 to distinguish a mode of cell death with characteristic morphology and apparently regulated, endogenously driven mechanisms. The effector processes responsible for apoptosis are now mostly well known, involving activation of caspases and Bcl2 family members in response to a wide variety of physiological and injury-induced signals. The factors that lead of the decision to activate apoptosis as opposed to adaptive responses to such signals (e.g. autophagy, cycle arrest, protein synthesis shutoff) are less well understood, but the intranuclear Promyelocytic Leukaemia Body (PML body) may create a local microenvironment in which the audit of DNA damage may occur, informed by the extent of the damage, the adequacy of its repair and other aspects of cell status.

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