Proliferation and cell death are the two sides of the same coin, rimmed by cellular homeostasis. The regulatory networks controlling the life and death decisions on the cellular level are more complex than we previously thought. The strict regulation of responses to external stimuli maintains tuned the signalling cascades, while unbalance is involved in a number of pathological conditions, ranging from neurodegeneration to neoplasic transformation. Apoptosis is a well-conserved physiological pathway whose basic tenets appear common to all metazoans. Key components regulate the commitment step and/or participate in effecting cell demise. Two main trails lead to apoptosis: the death receptor or extrinsic pathway and the mitochondrial or intrinsic pathway. The later is a rapid and strong way to execute the process. Breaches of mitochondria integrity result in the release of proapoptotic factors like cytochrome c. Tough this research area is rapidly developing many issues remain shrouded in uncertainties. The relationship between both mitochondrial membranes is uncertain and controversial. Large pores are involved, though their possible interplay is unclear. Recently the work on mitochondrial cristae remodelling has elucidated a novel checkpoint for apoptosis, which may determine sensitivity to apoptosis in vivo, during adult animal life. These issues will be documented in the present chapter.


Apoptosis Death receptors Caspases Mitochondria Bcl-2 proteins 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • M.L. Campo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and GeneticsUniversity of Extremadura10071 CáceresSpain

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