Cell Biology

Death by Any Other Name

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Science  18 Feb 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5712, pp. 1017
DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5712.1017b

An enormous amount of molecular detail about the mechanisms of programmed cell death (apoptosis) has been amassed, and it is now recognized as an integral cellular pathway involved in development and in disease. During apoptosis, an orchestrated series of events leads to the inhibition of protein synthesis. Another cell death pathway, much less well understood, is known as necrosis. It occurs both when cells are subjected to physical damage and during certain pathologies, including cardiac ischemia and stroke. Saelens et al. show that in necrosis, cellular protein synthesis continues unabated right up until the point at which the cell membrane ruptures. This means that a necrotic cell remains an attractive abode for incoming viruses, which will be able to exploit the cellular protein synthesis machinery to generate progeny. It also means that after necrotic cell death, many more intact cellular proteins are released locally and may thereby trigger an inflammatory response. — SMH

J. Cell Biol. 10.1083/jcb.200407162 (2005).

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