Control of apoptosis by Rel/NF-kappaB transcription factors

Oncogene. 1999 Nov 22;18(49):6910-24. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1203238.


Apoptosis is a physiological process critical for organ development, tissue homeostasis, and elimination of defective or potentially dangerous cells in complex organisms. Apoptosis can be initiated by a wide variety of stimuli, which activate a cell suicide program that is constitutively present in most vertebrate cells. In diverse cell types, Rel/NF-kappaB transcription factors have been shown to have a role in regulating the apoptotic program, either as essential for the induction of apoptosis or, perhaps more commonly, as blockers of apoptosis. Whether Rel/NF-kappaB promotes or inhibits apoptosis appears to depend on the specific cell type and the type of inducer. An understanding of the role of Rel/NF-kappaB transcription factors in controlling apoptosis may lead to the development of therapeutics for a wide variety of human diseases, including neurodegenerative and immune diseases, and cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Cell Cycle
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology
  • NF-kappa B / physiology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Transcription Factor RelA
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology
  • Virus Replication


  • NF-kappa B
  • Transcription Factor RelA
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha