The role of the Bcl-2 protein family in cancer

Semin Cancer Biol. 2003 Apr;13(2):115-23. doi: 10.1016/s1044-579x(02)00129-3.


Seminal studies on the proto-oncogene bcl-2 have first demonstrated that mutations that inhibit programmed cell death (apoptosis) can promote lymphomagenesis and influence the sensitivity of tumour cells to chemotherapy or radiotherapy. It is now widely believed that neoplastic transformation of many, perhaps even all, cell types requires mutational changes that interfere with the cell death programme. In this review, we describe current knowledge of the molecular control of cell death and discuss the role of pro- and anti-apoptotic members of the Bcl-2 protein family in tumourigenesis and anti-cancer therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2