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      Die for the community: an overview of programmed cell death in bacteria

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          Programmed cell death is a process known to have a crucial role in many aspects of eukaryotes physiology and is clearly essential to their life. As a consequence, the underlying molecular mechanisms have been extensively studied in eukaryotes and we now know that different signalling pathways leading to functionally and morphologically different forms of death exist in these organisms. Similarly, mono-cellular organism can activate signalling pathways leading to death of a number of cells within a colony. The reason why a single-cell organism would activate a program leading to its death is apparently counterintuitive and probably for this reason cell death in prokaryotes has received a lot less attention in the past years. However, as summarized in this review there are many reasons leading to prokaryotic cell death, for the benefit of the colony. Indeed, single-celled organism can greatly benefit from multicellular organization. Within this forms of organization, regulation of death becomes an important issue, contributing to important processes such as: stress response, development, genetic transformation, and biofilm formation.

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          Most cited references 112

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          Bacterial biofilms: from the natural environment to infectious diseases.

          Biofilms--matrix-enclosed microbial accretions that adhere to biological or non-biological surfaces--represent a significant and incompletely understood mode of growth for bacteria. Biofilm formation appears early in the fossil record (approximately 3.25 billion years ago) and is common throughout a diverse range of organisms in both the Archaea and Bacteria lineages, including the 'living fossils' in the most deeply dividing branches of the phylogenetic tree. It is evident that biofilm formation is an ancient and integral component of the prokaryotic life cycle, and is a key factor for survival in diverse environments. Recent advances show that biofilms are structurally complex, dynamic systems with attributes of both primordial multicellular organisms and multifaceted ecosystems. Biofilm formation represents a protected mode of growth that allows cells to survive in hostile environments and also disperse to colonize new niches. The implications of these survival and propagative mechanisms in the context of both the natural environment and infectious diseases are discussed in this review.
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            Control of apoptosis by the BCL-2 protein family: implications for physiology and therapy.

            The BCL-2 protein family determines the commitment of cells to apoptosis, an ancient cell suicide programme that is essential for development, tissue homeostasis and immunity. Too little apoptosis can promote cancer and autoimmune diseases; too much apoptosis can augment ischaemic conditions and drive neurodegeneration. We discuss the biochemical, structural and genetic studies that have clarified how the interplay between members of the BCL-2 family on mitochondria sets the apoptotic threshold. These mechanistic insights into the functions of the BCL-2 family are illuminating the physiological control of apoptosis, the pathological consequences of its dysregulation and the promising search for novel cancer therapies that target the BCL-2 family.
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              Molecular definitions of cell death subroutines: recommendations of the Nomenclature Committee on Cell Death 2012.

              In 2009, the Nomenclature Committee on Cell Death (NCCD) proposed a set of recommendations for the definition of distinct cell death morphologies and for the appropriate use of cell death-related terminology, including 'apoptosis', 'necrosis' and 'mitotic catastrophe'. In view of the substantial progress in the biochemical and genetic exploration of cell death, time has come to switch from morphological to molecular definitions of cell death modalities. Here we propose a functional classification of cell death subroutines that applies to both in vitro and in vivo settings and includes extrinsic apoptosis, caspase-dependent or -independent intrinsic apoptosis, regulated necrosis, autophagic cell death and mitotic catastrophe. Moreover, we discuss the utility of expressions indicating additional cell death modalities. On the basis of the new, revised NCCD classification, cell death subroutines are defined by a series of precise, measurable biochemical features.

                Author and article information

                Cell Death Dis
                Cell Death Dis
                Cell Death & Disease
                Nature Publishing Group
                January 2015
                22 January 2015
                1 January 2015
                : 6
                : 1
                : e1609
                [1 ]Department of Experimental and Clinical Sciences, University “G. d'Annunzio” , Chieti I-66013, Italy
                [2 ]Center of Excellence on Aging (Ce.S.I.), University “G. d'Annunzio” , Chieti I-66013, Italy
                [3 ]BIOUNIVERSA srl, University of Salerno , Fisciano (SA), Italy
                Author notes
                [* ]Department of Experimental and Clinical Sciences, University “G. d'Annunzio” , Via dei Vestini, Chieti I-66013, Italy. Tel: +39 0871 355 4807; Fax: +39 0871 355 4800; E-mail: allocati@
                Copyright © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited

                Cell Death and Disease is an open-access journal published by Nature Publishing Group. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons licence, users will need to obtain permission from the licence holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this licence, visit


                Cell biology


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