Signal transduction pathways linking polyamines to apoptosis
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Polyamines are important multifunctional cellular components and are classically considered as mediators of cell growth and division. Recently polyamines have been also implicated in cell death. Now it appears that polyamines are bivalent regulators of cellular functions, promoting proliferation or cell death depending on the cell type and on environmental signals. This review draws a picture about the role of polyamines in signalling pathways related to apoptotic cell death and the proposed molecular targets of these polycations at the level of the apoptotic cascade. Solid evidence indicates that polyamines may affect the mitochondrial and postmitochondrial phases of apoptosis, by modulating cytochrome c release from mitochondria and activation of caspases. Recently, polyamines have been also implicated in the regulation of the premitochondrial phase of apoptosis, during which upstream apoptotic signal transduction pathways are activated. The studies reviewed here suggest that polyamines may participate in loops involving interaction with signal transduction pathways and activation/expression of proteins that may control cell death or cell growth.
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