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Exp Cell Res. 2007 Jun 10;313(10):2265-81. Epub 2007 Apr 11.

Dual roles of intermediate filaments in apoptosis.

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Centre de recherche en cancérologie de l'Université Laval and L'Hôtel-Dieu de Québec (CHUQ), Québec, Canada G1R 2J6.


New roles have emerged recently for intermediate filaments (IFs), namely in modulating cell adhesion and growth, and providing resistance to various forms of stress and to apoptosis. In this context, we first summarize findings on the IF association with the cell response to mechanical stress and growth stimulation, in light of growth-related signaling events that are relevant to death-receptor engagement. We then address the molecular mechanisms by which IFs can provide cell resistance to apoptosis initiated by death-receptor stimulation and to necrosis triggered by excessive oxidative stress. In the same way, we examine IF involvement, along with cytolinker participation, in sequential caspase-mediated protein cleavages that are part of the overall cell death execution, particularly those that generate new functional IF protein fragments and uncover neoantigen markers. Finally, we report on the usefulness of these markers as diagnostic tools for disease-related aspects of apoptosis in humans. Clearly, the data accumulated in recent years provide new and significant insights into the multiple functions of IFs, particularly their dual roles in cell response to apoptotic insults.

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