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Cellular and Molecular Biology Letters

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Volume 17, Issue 4 (Dec 2012)

Puma, a critical mediator of cell death — one decade on from its discovery

Paweł Hikisz / Zofia Kiliańska
Published Online: 2012-09-23 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/s11658-012-0032-5


PUMA (p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis) is a pro-apoptotic member of the BH3-only subgroup of the Bcl-2 family. It is a key mediator of p53-dependent and p53-independent apoptosis and was identified 10 years ago. The PUMA gene is mapped to the long arm of chromosome 19, a region that is frequently deleted in a large number of human cancers. PUMA mediates apoptosis thanks to its ability to directly bind known anti-apoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family. It mainly localizes to the mitochondria. The binding of PUMA to the inhibitory members of the Bcl-2 family (Bcl-2-like proteins) via its BH3 domain seems to be a critical regulatory step in the induction of apoptosis. It results in the displacement of the proteins Bax and/or Bak. This is followed by their activation and the formation of pore-like structures on the mitochondrial membrane, which permeabilizes the outer mitochondrial membrane, leading to mitochondrial dysfunction and caspase activation. PUMA is involved in a large number of physiological and pathological processes, including the immune response, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and bacterial and viral infections.

Keywords: Apoptosis; BH3-only proteins; Carcinogenesis; Inhibitory members of the Bcl-2 family; Intrinsic apoptosis pathway; p53; Pro-apoptotic members of Bcl-2 family; PUMA; Post-translational regulation; Transcription factors

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About the article

Published Online: 2012-09-23

Published in Print: 2012-12-01

Citation Information: Cellular and Molecular Biology Letters, ISSN (Online) 1689-1392, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/s11658-012-0032-5.

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