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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2015 Dec;72(23):4593-612. doi: 10.1007/s00018-015-2031-y. Epub 2015 Sep 7.

Role of the nucleus in apoptosis: signaling and execution.

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Faculty of Basic Medicine, MV Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, 119991, Russia.
Faculty of Basic Medicine, MV Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, 119991, Russia.
Division of Toxicology, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Box 210, 17177, Stockholm, Sweden.
Department of Translational Inflammation, Institute of Experimental Internal Medicine, Otto von Guericke University, Magdeburg, Germany.


Since their establishment in the early 1970s, the nuclear changes upon apoptosis induction, such as the condensation of chromatin, disassembly of nuclear scaffold proteins and degradation of DNA, were, and still are, considered as the essential steps and hallmarks of apoptosis. These are the characteristics of the execution phase of apoptotic cell death. In addition, accumulating data clearly show that some nuclear events can lead to the induction of apoptosis. In particular, if DNA lesions resulting from deregulation during the cell cycle or DNA damage induced by chemotherapeutic drugs or viral infection cannot be efficiently eliminated, apoptotic mechanisms, which enable cellular transformation to be avoided, are activated in the nucleus. The functional heterogeneity of the nuclear organization allows the tight regulation of these signaling events that involve the movement of various nuclear proteins to other intracellular compartments (and vice versa) to initiate and govern apoptosis. Here, we discuss how these events are coordinated to execute apoptotic cell death.


Caspases; Endonucleases; PML nuclear bodies; Ribosomal stress; p53; p63; p73

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