Bcl-2 family: life-or-death switch

FEBS Lett. 2000 Jan 21;466(1):6-10. doi: 10.1016/s0014-5793(99)01761-5.


The Bcl-2 family of proteins that consists of anti-apoptotic and pro-apoptotic members determines life-or-death of a cell by controlling the release of mitochondrial apoptogenic factors, cytochrome c and apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF), that activate downstream executional phases, including the activation of death proteases called caspases. Cytochrome c release is, thus, central to apoptotic signal transduction in mammals, making study of the mechanism for cytochrome c release a major issue. Several models for cytochrome c release have been proposed, including rupture of mitochondrial outer membrane and involvement of a specific channel. Here, we provide an overview of recent findings on the role of Bcl-2 family members in the life-or-death decision of a cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cytochrome c Group / metabolism
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Porins / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Voltage-Dependent Anion Channels
  • bcl-X Protein


  • Cytochrome c Group
  • Porins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Voltage-Dependent Anion Channels
  • bcl-X Protein
  • Caspases