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Apoptosis. 1997;2(5):423-41.

Life and death decisions: the role of the IAPs in modulating programmed cell death.

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ApoptoGen Inc., Canada.


Multicellular organisms have evolved elaborate signal transduction pathways for maintaining homeostasis through the control of cell proliferation and death. The recent surge of interest in the regulation of programmed cell death has led to the rapid identification of many proteins involved in controlling and executing apoptosis. The inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (IAPs) constitute a family of highly conserved death suppressing proteins that were first identified in baculoviruses, and that has recently expanded to include at least two homologues in Drosophila melanogaster and four in rodents and humans. In this article we review the current state of IAP research. Two of the IAPs, HIAP-1 and HIAP-2, have been placed within the TNFalpha induced cell death pathway which involves two receptors for TNFalpha and multiple, overlapping signal transduction proteins. A third, X-linked gene termed XIAP, is ubiquitously expressed and appears to have a broad range of suppressor activity to a variety of apoptotic triggers. The fourth member, NAIP, has been identified as the protein product of a candidate gene for the inherited neuromuscular disorder, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). The neuroprotective activity of NAIP in an in vivo model of cerebral ischemia has also been demonstrated.


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