In Nature plants are constantly challenged by a variety of environmental stresses that could lead to disruptions in cellular homeostasis. Programmed cell death (PCD) is a fundamental cellular process that is often associated with defense responses to pathogens, during development and in response to abiotic stresses in fungi, animals and plants. Although there are many characteristics shared between different types of PCD events, it remains unknown whether a common mechanism drives various types of PCD in eukaryotes. One candidate regulator for such a mechanism is Bax Inhibitor-1 (BI-1), an evolutionary conserved, endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-resident protein that represents an ancient cell death regulator that potentially regulates PCD in all eukaryotes. Recent findings strongly suggested that BI-1 plays an important role in the conserved ER stress response pathway to modulate cell death induction in response to multiple types of cell death signals. As ER stress signaling pathways has been suggested to play important roles not only in the control of ER homeostasis but also in other biological processes such as the response to pathogens and abiotic stress in plants, BI-1 might function to control the convergence point that modulates the level of the "pro-survival and pro-death" signals under multiple stress conditions.
Keywords: Bax Inhibitor-1; ER stress; abiotic stress; biotic stress; programmed cell death.