, Volume 351, Issue 1-2, pp 41-58

Role of Bcl-2 family proteins and caspases in the regulation of apoptosis

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Abstract

Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, plays a pivotal role in the elimination of unwanted, damaged, or infected cells in multicellular organisms and also in diverse biological processes, including development, cell differentiation, and proliferation. Apoptosis is a highly regulated form of cell death, and dysregulation of apoptosis results in pathological conditions including cancer, autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases. The Bcl-2 family proteins are key regulators of apoptosis, which include both anti- and pro-apoptotic proteins, and a slight change in the dynamic balance of these proteins may result either in inhibition or promotion of cell death. Execution of apoptosis by various stimuli is initiated by activating either intrinsic or extrinsic pathways which lead to a series of downstream cascade of events, releasing of various apoptotic mediators from mitochondria and activation of caspases, important for the cell fate. In view of recent research advances about underlying mechanism of apoptosis, this review highlights the basics concept of apoptosis and its regulation by Bcl-2 family of protein. Furthermore, this review discusses the interplay of various apoptotic mediators and caspases to decide the fate of the cell. We expect that this review will add to the pool of basic information necessary to understand the mechanism of apoptosis which may implicate in designing better strategy to develop biomedical therapy to control apoptosis.