Research News

Forging a Path to Cell Death

Science  09 Aug 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5276, pp. 735-737
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5276.735


In the body, cell suicide, through a process called apoptosis or programmed cell death, is needed for normal embryonic development and proper immune system function, among other things. But until recently, very little was known about how the command to commit suicide is transmitted from the cell surface, where it's received, to the cell interior, where the apoptosis program is carried out. Now, in a recent burst of activity, a handful of labs have uncovered a complex maze of internal signaling pathways triggered by the death signal receptors. Researchers hope that unraveling these pathways will not only help them better understand the many processes in which apoptosis plays a role, but will also lead to new therapies for diseases, such as cancer and neurodegenerative disorders, in which apoptosis may go awry.