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Cell Cycle. 2008 Apr 15;7(8):1036-46. Epub 2008 Feb 11.

IAPs: more than just inhibitors of apoptosis proteins.

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  • 1INSERM, UMR 866, Institut Fédératif de Recherche (IFR) Santé-STIC, University of Burgundy, Dijon, France.


Inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (IAPs) are a conserved family of proteins identified in species ranging from virus, yeasts, nematodes, fishes, flies and mammals. The common structural feature is the presence of at least one Baculovirus IAP Repeat (BIR) domain. Hence, IAPs are also known as BIR-containing proteins (BIRCs). Most of them display anti-apoptotic properties when overexpressed. In drosophila, IAPs are sufficient and necessary to promote cell survival through a direct regulation of apoptotic proteases called caspases. In mammals, BIRC4/XIAP, the most studied IAP member can directly inhibit the activity of caspase-3, 7 and 9. However, this activity is not conserved in other IAPs and physiological relevancies of such anti-caspase activities are still discussed. A detailed analysis of IAP-deficient mice or derived cells, deletion experiments performed in drosophila and zebrafish, or research of protein partners have revealed the importance of IAPs in adaptive response to cellular stress, in cell proliferation, differentiation, signaling, motility and in immune response. This review discusses recent data that help understanding of cellular functions of IAPs.

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