The Bcl2 family: regulators of the cellular life-or-death switch

Nat Rev Cancer. 2002 Sep;2(9):647-56. doi: 10.1038/nrc883.


Tissue homeostasis is regulated by apoptosis, the cell-suicide programme that is executed by proteases called caspases. The Bcl2 family of intracellular proteins is the central regulator of caspase activation, and its opposing factions of anti- and pro-apoptotic members arbitrate the life-or-death decision. Apoptosis is often impaired in cancer and can limit conventional therapy. A better understanding of how the Bcl2 family controls caspase activation should result in new, more effective therapeutic approaches.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Protein Conformation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / chemistry
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Caspases