Regulation of apoptosis by alternative pre-mRNA splicing

Mol Cell. 2005 Jul 1;19(1):1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2005.05.026.


Apoptosis, a phenomenon that allows the regulated destruction and disposal of damaged or unwanted cells, is common to many cellular processes in multicellular organisms. In humans more than 200 proteins are involved in apoptosis, many of which are dysregulated or defective in human diseases including cancer. A large number of apoptotic factors are regulated via alternative splicing, a process that allows for the production of discrete protein isoforms with often distinct functions from a common mRNA precursor. The abundance of apoptosis genes that are alternatively spliced and the often antagonistic roles of the generated protein isoforms strongly imply that alternative splicing is a crucial mechanism for regulating life and death decisions. Importantly, modulation of isoform production of cell death proteins via pharmaceutical manipulation of alternative splicing may open up new therapeutic avenues for the treatment of disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Caspases / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • RNA Precursors / genetics
  • RNA Precursors / metabolism*


  • Protein Isoforms
  • RNA Precursors
  • Caspases