Viewing BCL2 and cell death control from an evolutionary perspective
Strasser A., Vaux DL.
© 2018 ADMC Associazione Differenziamento. The last 30 years of studying BCL2 have brought cell death research into the molecular era, and revealed its relevance to human pathophysiology. Most, if not all metazoans use an evolutionarily conserved process for cellular self destruction that is controlled and implemented by proteins related to BCL2. We propose the anti-apoptotic BCL2-like and pro-apoptotic BH3-only members of the family arose through duplication and modification of genes for the pro-apoptotic multi-BH domain family members, such as BAX and BAK1. In that way, a cell suicide process that initially evolved as a mechanism for defense against intracellular parasites was then also used in multicellular organisms for morphogenesis and to maintain the correct number of cells in adults by balancing cell production by mitosis.