Death by committee: Organellar trafficking and communication in apoptosis

Joseph E. Aslan, Gary Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Apoptosis proceeds through a set of evolutionarily conserved processes that co-ordinate the elimination of damaged or unneeded cells. This program of cell death is carried out by organelle-directed regulators, including the Bcl-2 proteins, and ultimately executed by proteases of the caspase family. Although the biochemical mechanisms of apoptosis are increasingly understood, the underlying cell biology orchestrating programmed cell death remains enigmatic. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of Bcl-2 protein regulation and caspase activation while examining cell biological mechanisms and consequences of apoptotic induction. Organellar contributions to apoptotic induction include death receptor endocytosis, mitochondrial and lysosomal permeabilization, endoplasmic reticulum calcium release and fragmentation of the Golgi apparatus. These early apoptotic events are accompanied by stabilization of the microtubule cytoskeleton and translocation of organelles to the microtubule organizing center. Together, these phenomena establish a model of apoptotic induction whereby a cytoskeletal-dependent coalescence and 'scrambling' of organelles in the paranuclear region co-ordinates apoptotic communication, caspase activation and cell death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1390-1404
Number of pages15
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • 14-3-3
  • Bad
  • Bax
  • Bid
  • Cathepsin
  • Ceramide
  • Cytochrome c
  • Drp1
  • Dynein
  • GD3
  • Mitochondria
  • PACS-2
  • SUMO

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Death by committee: Organellar trafficking and communication in apoptosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this