Mcl-1 is a potential therapeutic target in multiple types of cancer

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2009 Apr;66(8):1326-36. doi: 10.1007/s00018-008-8637-6.


Resistance to apoptosis is a common challenge in human malignancies contributing to both progress of cancer and resistance to conventional therapeutics. Abnormalities in a variety of cell intrinsic and extrinsic molecular mechanisms cooperatively promote tumor formation. Therapeutic approaches that specifically target components of these molecular mechanisms are getting widespread attention. Mcl-1 is a highly expressed pro-survival protein in human malignancies and its cellular expression is tightly regulated via multiple mechanisms. Mcl-1 differs from other members of the Bcl-2 family in having a very short half-life. So inhibition of its expression and/or neutralization of its anti-apoptotic function will rapidly make Mcl-1-dependent cells more susceptible to apoptosis and provide an opportunity to combat several types of cancers. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the regulation of Mcl-1 expression and discusses the alternative approaches targeting Mcl-1 in human cancer cells whose survivals mainly depend on Mcl-1.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / genetics
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Myeloid Cell Leukemia Sequence 1 Protein
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / drug effects
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / genetics*


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Myeloid Cell Leukemia Sequence 1 Protein
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2