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Cell Death Differ. 2008 Mar;15(3):443-52. Epub 2007 Nov 2.

Big wheel keeps on turning: apoptosome regulation and its role in chemoresistance.

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Cell Death Research Group, Division of Biochemical Toxicology, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Apoptosis, a form of programmed cell death, enables organisms to maintain tissue homeostasis through deletion of extraneous cells and also serves as a means to eliminate potentially harmful cells. Numerous stress signals have been shown to engage the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis, with the release from mitochondria of proapoptotic factors such as cytochrome c and the subsequent formation of a cytosolic complex between apoptotic protease-activating factor-1 (Apaf-1) and procaspase-9, known as the apoptosome. Recent studies have led to the identification of an array of factors that control the formation and activation of the apoptosome under physiological conditions. Moreover, deregulation of apoptosome function has been documented in various forms of human cancer, and may play a role in both carcinogenesis and chemoresistance. We discuss how the apoptosome is regulated in normal and disease states, and how targeting of apoptosome-dependent, post-mitochondrial stages of apoptosis may serve as a rational approach to cancer treatment.

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