The concept that cells subjected to chromatin cleavage during apoptosis are destined to die is being challenged. The execution phase of apoptosis is characterized by the activation of effector caspases, such as caspase-3, that cleave key regulatory or structural proteins and in particular activate apoptotic nucleases such as the caspase activated deoxyribonuclease (CAD). It is apparent that caspases of this type may become active both through non-apoptotic processing and potentially within cells that exhibit apoptotic morphology but are subsequently able to survive. In such systems caspase suppressor molecules, the inhibitors of apoptotic proteins or IAP's, may rescue cells from apoptotic nuclease(s) attack initiated by transient caspase activation. The MLL gene is involved in leukemogenic translocations in ALL and AML and is a target of nuclease cleavage during apoptosis. Translocations initiated at the site of apoptotic nuclease attack within MLL have been identified and may offer a model, with clinical relevance, for DNA damage mediated by the apoptosis system in cells destined to survive. The specificity of apoptotic cleavage combined with the potential for recovery from the execution phase of apoptosis suggests a novel and pathogenic role for apoptosis in creating translocations with leukemogenic potential.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Cell Biology