Evolution of the BCL-2-Regulated Apoptotic Pathway

  • Abdel AouacheriaEmail author
  • Emilie Le Goff
  • Nelly Godefroy
  • Stephen Baghdiguian


The mitochondrion descends from a bacterium that, about two billion years ago, became endosymbiotic. This organelle represents a Pandora’s box whose opening triggers cytochrome-c release and apoptosis of cells from multicellular animals, which evolved much later, about six hundred million years ago. BCL-2 proteins, which are critical apoptosis regulators, were recruited at a certain time point in evolution to either lock or unlock this mitochondrial Pandora’s box. Hence, particularly intriguing is the issue of when and how the “BCL-2 proteins–mitochondria–apoptosis” triptych emerged. This chapter explains what it takes from an evolutionary perspective to evolve a BCL-2-regulated apoptotic pathway, by focusing on the events occurring upstream of mitochondria.


Cell death Apoptosis BCL-2 BH3 Mitochondria 



The authors thank P. Pontarotti for the invitation to write this chapter. We are grateful to Dr. Valentine Rech De Laval for help with illustrations.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abdel Aouacheria
    • 1
    Email author
  • Emilie Le Goff
    • 1
  • Nelly Godefroy
    • 1
  • Stephen Baghdiguian
    • 1
  1. 1.ISEM - Institut Des Sciences de L’Evolution de MontpellierUMR 5554, Université de Montpellier, CNRS, IRD, CIRAD, EPHEMontpellierFrance

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