Research on the molecular action of oncogenes has often yielded important insights into key signal transduction pathways that regulate the growth of cells. The bcl-2 (for B-cell lymphoma-2) gene was originally identified as the oncogene activated by the characteristic t(14; 18) translocation in non-Hodgkin’s follicular lymphomas (Cleary et al., 1986; Tsujimoto and Croce, 1986). By contrast to many well-studied oncogenes which stimulate cell division, bcl-2 was found to promote malignancy by inhibiting apoptosis, the cell-intrinsic suicide program (Vaux et al, 1988; Hockenbery et al, 1990). The discovery of bcl-2 and its novel biological activity generated intense interest because it provided a foothold into the poorly understood and previously intractable pathway in mammalian cells that controls physiologic cell death. Furthermore, the role of activated bcl-2 in follicular lymphoma provided direct evidence that suppression of apoptosis contributes to tumourigenesis and revealed a new class of aberrant signals in cancer cells that contributes to their unrestrained proliferation.
KeywordsChronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Follicular Lymphoma Spinal Muscular Atrophy Proapoptotic Protein Cell Death Suppressor
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