Microbial Programmed Necrosis: The Cost of Conflicts Between Stress and Metabolism

  • Joris WinderickxEmail author
  • Paula LudovicoEmail author
Part of the Cell Death in Biology and Diseases book series (CELLDEATH)


When first described, necrosis was regarded as a rather accidental and uncontrolled form of cell death. However, recent observations made in metazoans challenged this view by pointing towards necrotic cell death as being the result of a programmed process that can be triggered by a variety of stimuli in conditions where the apoptosis-dictating caspases are downregulated and control is being exerted by the kinases RIP1 and RIP3. Also in microorganisms, cell death appears to be part of inherent developmental programs aiming to sustain survival of the species. While accumulating evidence supports the notion that microbes have rudimentary apoptotic programs, the question arises whether they possess the ability to activate necrotic programs as well. A critical survey of the current literature indicates that microbial cells certainly do orchestrate their own self-destruction by the activation of autolytic processes. Even in a more restrictive sense where “programmed necrosis” is used to define a controlled switch between apoptotic and necrotic cell death, the answer remains positive as evidenced by compelling data obtained with the model organisms S. cerevisiae. Moreover, the data obtained in the yeast model indicate that autophagy plays a crucial role in the decision to execute the necrotic program and they further suggest this program to become active when cells are no longer able to integrate their growth and reproduction potential. Thus, while to date no microbial genome was reported to encode for canonical caspases or RIP kinase orthologues, microbial cells apparently have the ability to determine their mode of cell death, indicative that the principles of apoptosis and programmed necrosis originated early during evolution.


Yeast Cell Programme Cell Death Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress Necrotic Cell Death Acetic Acid Concentration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Functional BiologyUniversity of LeuvenHeverleeBelgium
  2. 2.Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS), School of Health SciencesUniversity of MinhoBragaPortugal
  3. 3.ICVS/3B’s – PT Government Associate LaboratoryBraga/GuimarãesPortugal

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