Editors' ChoiceCell Biology

Life and Death and Quality Control

Sci. Signal.  08 Jul 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 333, pp. ec188
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005655

When cells are subjected to too much stress, they curl up their toes and die. Lu et al. describe a clever strategy that cells use to stay alive as long as they are not stressed for too long. The cells’ quality-control machinery will activate a so-called death receptor when defective proteins accumulate within the cell, a sign of stress—but they will wait until the proteins have built up for a good long time. If stress is relieved soon enough, levels of the death receptor decay back to normal, and the cells stay alive; otherwise, R.I.P.

M. Lu, D. A. Lawrence, S. Marsters, D. Acosta-Alvear, P. Kimmig, A. S. Mendez, A. W. Paton, J. C. Paton, P. Walter, A. Ashkenazi, Opposing unfolded-protein-response signals converge on death receptor 5 to control apoptosis. Science 344, 98–101 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]