Cell Death and Differentiation
SEARCH     advanced search my account e-alerts subscribe register
Journal home
Advance online publication
Current issue
Archive
Press releases
For authors
For referees
Contact editorial office
About the journal
For librarians
Subscribe
Advertising
naturereprints
Contact Springer Nature
Customer services
Site features
NPG Subject areas
Access material from all our publications in your subject area:
Biotechnology Biotechnology
Cancer Cancer
Chemistry Chemistry
Dentistry Dentistry
Development Development
Drug Discovery Drug Discovery
Earth Sciences Earth Sciences
Evolution & Ecology Evolution & Ecology
Genetics Genetics
Immunology Immunology
Materials Materials Science
Medical Research Medical Research
Microbiology Microbiology
Molecular Cell Biology Molecular Cell Biology
Neuroscience Neuroscience
Pharmacology Pharmacology
Physics Physics
Browse all publications
 
Journal home
Advance online publication
Current issue
Archive
Press releases
For authors
For referees
Contact editorial office
About the journal
For librarians
Subscribe
Advertising
naturereprints
Contact Springer Nature
Customer services
Site features
NPG Subject areas
Access material from all our publications in your subject area:
Biotechnology Biotechnology
Cancer Cancer
Chemistry Chemistry
Dentistry Dentistry
Development Development
Drug Discovery Drug Discovery
Earth Sciences Earth Sciences
Evolution & Ecology Evolution & Ecology
Genetics Genetics
Immunology Immunology
Materials Materials Science
Medical Research Medical Research
Microbiology Microbiology
Molecular Cell Biology Molecular Cell Biology
Neuroscience Neuroscience
Pharmacology Pharmacology
Physics Physics
Browse all publications
 
June 1999, Volume 6, Number 6, Pages 497-507
Table of contents    Previous  Abstract  Next   Article  PDF
Review
Apoptosis without caspases: an inefficient molecular guillotine?
Christoph Borner and Laurent Monneya

Institute of Biochemistry, University of Fribourg, Rue du Musée 5, CH-1700 Fribourg, Switzerland

Correspondence to: Christoph Borner, Institute of Biochemistry, University of Fribourg, Rue du Musée 5, CH-1700 Fribourg, Switzerland. tel: ++41 26 300 86 54; fax: ++41 26 300 97 35; e-mail: christoph.borner@unifr.ch

aCurrent address: Center for Neurologic Diseases, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA


Edited by M. Piacentini

Abstract

Since the discovery that the cysteine protease CED-3 was essential for developmental death in the nematode C. elegans, the search has been on to identify homologous proteases governing mammalian apoptosis. Fourteen of these proteases, now called caspases, have been found to date, and studies with natural or chemical inhibitors, and more recently knock-out mice, confirmed the involvement of at least a subset of these proteases in various forms of mammalian apoptosis. However, there has been recent evidence that some apoptotic morphologies, such as cell shrinkage, membrane blebbing and nuclear condensation, are not blocked by caspase inhibitors and that the cells continue to die in a protracted and inefficient manner. This has led to the notion that caspases are not required for all aspects of apoptosis in mammals. Here we review the current knowledge about caspase-independent apoptosis, discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the reasoning that led to its proposition and provide insights into its possible regulation and physiological significance.

Keywords

apoptosis; programmed cell death; caspase-independent; Bcl-2; Bax; mitochondria; cytochrome c; ced genes; C. elegans; Drosophila

Received 22 February 1999; accepted 23 March 1999
June 1999, Volume 6, Number 6, Pages 497-507
Table of contents    Previous  Abstract  Next   Article  PDF