Not everyone knows how antibodies influence animal life, so this article is, in part, a very brief introduction. Novus Biologicals offers a printed version of their Apoptosis Catalog that contains additional information on apoptotic mechanisms; email firstname.lastname@example.org to get a copy.
Apoptosis is triggered by a variety of signals and takes place by one of several mechanisms. These involve cell surface receptors, cytokines, tumour necrosis factors, proteins such as Bcl-2, Bax and Apaf-1, the caspase cascade, and apoptosis-inducing factors.
Specific antibodies can assist in pinpointing exactly which factors and signals are involved in any particular situation.
Apoptosis is vital in the breakdown of early embryonic structures, so as to permit development and maturation. Without apoptosis, the caterpillar cannot metamorphose into the butterfly, the tadpole cannot lose its tail and neural synapses cannot form.
The detachment of the uterine endometrium at the start of menstruation involves apoptosis. Lymphocytes proliferating in response to an antigenic stimulus undergo apoptosis when this immune response is no longer required.
Apoptosis is also defensive. Virus-infected cells are set on the apoptotic path by cytotoxic T cells. Likewise, cells with damaged DNA are induced to undergo apoptosis by the p53 protein.
Defects in apoptosis occur in autoimmune disease. Mutation of one of the apoptosis genes results in autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome.
Some cancer cells can avoid apoptosis and continue their abnormal proliferation, sometimes due to the action of a cancer virus such as HPV or EBV. In contrast, the loss of CD4+ cells in AIDS is due to excessive apoptosis.
Apoptosis raises fascinating questions in fundamental research and questions of importance for understanding disease and developing new therapies. In its antibody catalog, Novus Biologicals offers investigators more than 5500 products of relevance to this research.