The role of BH3-only proteins in the immune system

Nat Rev Immunol. 2005 Mar;5(3):189-200. doi: 10.1038/nri1568.


Programmed cell death--also known as apoptosis--has a crucial role in the immune system of mammals and other animals. It removes useless cells and potentially dangerous cells, including lymphocytes, and is involved in killing pathogen-infected or damaged cells. Defects in this process have been found to cause or contribute to diseases of the immune system, including immunodeficiency, autoimmunity, lymphoma and leukaemia. This review describes BH3-only proteins, a pro-apoptotic subgroup of the BCL-2 family, and their role in the development and function of the immune system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Immunological
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / immunology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2