The IAP Proteins: Caspase Inhibitors and Beyond

Science's STKE  08 Aug 2000:
Vol. 2000, Issue 44, pp. pe1
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2000.44.pe1

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Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, occurs as an outcome of signals that direct cells to perish. Whether initiated by specifically activated receptors or induced through viral infection, apoptosis is an important means by which organisms maintain health and homeostasis. The apoptotic pathway uses several regulatory proteins that prevent uncontrolled cell death, which would be detrimental to the organism. Richter and Duckett review the recently discovered and characterized inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (IAPs). Not surprisingly, IAPs were first identified in viruses that were able to subvert apoptosis in infected cells. Evidence exists suggesting that, in addition to inhibiting apoptosis, IAPs are involved in signal transduction and cell cycle regulation. Richter and Duckett also review other recent observations indicating that some IAPs may have roles in protein ubiquitination. Although the various roles of the IAPs are beginning to be uncovered, new questions arise about the breadth of their functions and the proteins to which IAPs bind.

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