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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2019 Mar;20(3):175-193. doi: 10.1038/s41580-018-0089-8.

Regulation of apoptosis in health and disease: the balancing act of BCL-2 family proteins.

Author information

1
John B. Little Center for Radiation Sciences, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
2
Lab for Systems Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
3
Lab for Systems Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. Anthony_Letai@dfci.harvard.edu.
4
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA, USA. Anthony_Letai@dfci.harvard.edu.
5
John B. Little Center for Radiation Sciences, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA. sarosiek@hsph.harvard.edu.
6
Lab for Systems Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. sarosiek@hsph.harvard.edu.

Abstract

The loss of vital cells within healthy tissues contributes to the development, progression and treatment outcomes of many human disorders, including neurological and infectious diseases as well as environmental and medical toxicities. Conversely, the abnormal survival and accumulation of damaged or superfluous cells drive prominent human pathologies such as cancers and autoimmune diseases. Apoptosis is an evolutionarily conserved cell death pathway that is responsible for the programmed culling of cells during normal eukaryotic development and maintenance of organismal homeostasis. This pathway is controlled by the BCL-2 family of proteins, which contains both pro-apoptotic and pro-survival members that balance the decision between cellular life and death. Recent insights into the dynamic interactions between BCL-2 family proteins and how they control apoptotic cell death in healthy and diseased cells have uncovered novel opportunities for therapeutic intervention. Importantly, the development of both positive and negative small-molecule modulators of apoptosis is now enabling researchers to translate the discoveries that have been made in the laboratory into clinical practice to positively impact human health.

PMID:
30655609
DOI:
10.1038/s41580-018-0089-8

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