The domains of death: evolution of the apoptosis machinery

Trends Biochem Sci. 1999 Feb;24(2):47-53. doi: 10.1016/s0968-0004(98)01341-3.


Recent progress in research into programmed cell death has resulted in the identification of the principal protein domains involved in this process. The evolution of many of these domains can be traced back in evolution to unicellular eukaryotes or even bacteria, where the domains appear to be involved in other regulatory functions. Cell-death systems in animals and plants share several conserved domains, in particular the family of apoptotic ATPases; this allows us to suggest a plausible, even if still incomplete, scenario for the evolution of apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / genetics
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / physiology
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / genetics*
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Caspase Inhibitors
  • Caspases / genetics
  • Caspases / physiology
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Caspase Inhibitors
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Caspases
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases