Clinical and Translational Oncology

, Volume 9, Issue 9, pp 555–562 | Cite as

Apoptosis regulators as targets for cancer therapy

  • J. L. Fernández-LunaEmail author
Educational Series


Apoptosis serves to remove excess or damaged cells and its dysregulation may lead to a number of pathological disorders including cancer. Studies during the last 20 years have unravelled much of the molecular mechanisms that control apoptosis. Whether a cell dies in response to diverse apoptotic stimuli, including DNA-damaging agents, is determined largely by interactions between proteins of the Bcl-2 family. A death signal is transmitted through the BH3-only proteins to Bax and Bak which in turn permeabilise the outer mitochondrial membrane allowing the release of apoptogenic factors, which triggers activation of cell-death-promoting caspases. These proteolytic enzymes are tightly controlled by members of the inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) family. Activation of the caspase cascade via cell death receptors also represents a key apoptotic pathway in both normal and tumour cells. Basic knowledge of these apoptosis regulators provides the basis for novel therapeutic strategies aimed at promoting tumour cell death or enhancing susceptibility to apoptotic inducers. This review focuses on these strategies.

Key words

Apoptosis Bcl-2 XIAP Caspases TRAIL Therapy 


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Copyright information

© Feseo 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Unidad de Genética MolecularHospital Universitario Marqués de ValdecillaSantanderSpain

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