or programmed cell death is the process by which a cell becomes
committed to killing itself. This is obviously a serious decision
for the cell to make and the pathways involved are therefore rather
complex. The discovery of this process was here in Edinburgh
(Kerr, Wyllie & Curry, 1972) and is a subject that has come
from being viewed with some degree of ridicule to being centre stage in
cell biology. Not only has the cell to lead to its own demise but
it must do so in an orderly fashion so that the cell debris can be
quickly and easily cleared by phagocytes. Apoptosis turns out to
be very important in development, the spaces between our fingers for
example results from the apoptosis of the cells between them during
development of the limb bud. Cell also become apoptotic under a
variety of pathological situations such as viral attack. One can
well imagine that for the greater good of a multi-cellular organism, it
makes sense for individual cells to die but apoptosis has apparently
also evolved in yeast (Frohlich
& Madeo, 2000)
and protists (Vardi
et al, 1999;)
, cells that are free living.
& Madeo, F. (2000)."Apoptosis in yeast - a monocellular
organism exhibits altruistic behaviour." FEBS letters
Giammarioli, A.M., Logozi, M., Lozupone, F., Matatrrese, P., Luciani,
F., Falchi, M., Malorni, W. & Fais, S.(2000). "CD95 (APO-1/Fas)
linkage to the actin cytoskeleton though ezrin in human T lymphocytes: a
novel regulatory mechanism of the CD95 apoptotic pathway. EMBO J.
Wyllie, A.M. & Curry, A.R. (1972). "Apoptosis: a basic
biological phenomenon with wide-ranging implications in tissue
kinetics." Brit.J.Cancer 24, 239-275.
Berman-Frank, I., Rozenberg, T., Hadas, O., Kaplan, A. & Levine, A.
(1999). "Programmed cell death of the dinoflagellate Peridinium
gatunense is mediated by CO2 limitation and oxidative stress." Curr.Biol.