Apoptosis and Necroptosis Part I: Important factors to identify both types of programmed cell death

Different types of cell death have classically been identified by discrete morphological changes. The hallmarks of apoptosis include cell shrinkage, nuclear fragmentation and membrane blebbing whereas necroptosis is characterized by cell swelling and plasma membrane breakdown. While these two forms of cell death are clearly distinct, substantial crosstalk occurs between them.  Accordingly, it is becoming increasingly important to understand how these processes differ and to understand ways to differentiate them in cellular populations. 

Pathway Highlight: Which caspase substrates contribute to the morphological features associated with apoptosis?

Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is controlled by a caspase signal cascade that activates downstream signals to induce the morphological changes used to differentiate apoptosis from other forms of cell death.  Novus Biologicals offers a variety of antibodies and tools to detect the different morphological indicators of cell death. 

Altered expression of BCL2 in cancer

Similar to other cell processes, the balance between cell survival and cell death is an important equilibrium that when altered expression of genes can lead to a variety of disease.

IRE1 alpha dependent apoptotic-signaling pathway

Despite in depth characterization of the role of IRE1 alpha (inositol-requiring enzyme 1 alpha) in activating the unfolded protein response (UPR) in the ER - little is known about the molecular mechanisms by which this ER protein has shown to regulate intracellular calcium levels and subsequent apoptosis. Intracellular calcium homeostasis is fundamental to many physiological processes, and an increase in Ca2+ is associated with both the early and late stages of apoptosis.

Bcl-2 - an antiapoptotic protein with an important role in cancer cell survival

B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) protein is an oncogene that normally acts as an apoptotic inhibitor and localizes to the mitochondrial membrane where it prevents the release of cytochrome c. The Bcl-2 protein family consists of over 20 proteins each containing at least one Bcl-2 homology (BH) domains and have either proapoptic or antiapoptotic activities.

Understanding Noxa Regulation of Apoptosis

Noxa is a pro-apoptotic gene belonging to the Bcl2 protein family that is unique in that it contains only BH3 domain. The BH3-only subclass of proteins, including proteins like PUMA and Bim in addition to Noxa, regulate the remaining Bcl-2 family members.