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The Cytoskeleton and Apoptosis

Apoptosis 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.  

 

References

Frohlich, K.U. & Madeo, F. (2000)."Apoptosis in yeast - a monocellular organism exhibits altruistic behaviour." FEBS letters 

Parlato, S., 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. 19(19), 5123-5134.

Kerr, J.F.R., 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.

Vardi, A., 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. 9, 1061-1064.

 
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