Structural, functional and therapeutic biology of survivin

Cancer Lett. 2006 Dec 8;244(2):164-71. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2006.03.007. Epub 2006 Apr 18.


Survivin is a unique member of the inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) protein family that interferes with post-mitochondrial events including activation of caspases. Survivin regulates cell cycle also. It is expressed in most of the human tumors, but it is barely detectable in the terminally differentiated normal cells/tissues. Molecular mechanisms of regulation of survivin in cancer are not clearly understood. Nevertheless, the functional loss of wild type p53 is often associated with upregulation of survivin. Tumors that over-express survivin generally bear a poor prognosis and are associated with resistance to therapy. The differential expression of survivin in cancer versus normal tissues makes it a useful tool in cancer diagnosis and a promising therapeutic target. A growing body of literature suggests nuclear expression of survivin as a good prognostic marker. Disruption of the survivin induction pathway has resulted in an increase in apoptosis and inhibition of tumor growth. Regular therapies, such as, radiotherapy in combination with anticancer drugs in clinical practice may yield promising results.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / physiology*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / physiology*
  • Survivin


  • BIRC5 protein, human
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Survivin