Non-apoptotic functions of BCL-2 family proteins

Cell Death Differ. 2017 Aug;24(8):1348-1358. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2017.22. Epub 2017 Feb 24.


The BCL-2 family proteins are major regulators of the apoptosis process, but the mechanisms by which they regulate this process are only partially understood. It is now well documented that these proteins play additional non-apoptotic roles that are likely to be related to their apoptotic roles and to provide important clues to cracking their mechanisms of action. It seems that these non-apoptotic roles are largely related to the activation of cellular survival pathways designated to maintain or regain cellular survival, but, if unsuccessful, will switch over into a pro-apoptotic mode. These non-apoptotic roles span a wide range of processes that include the regulation of mitochondrial physiology (metabolism, electron transport chain, morphology, permeability transition), endoplasmic reticulum physiology (calcium homeostasis, unfolded protein response (UPR)), nuclear processes (cell cycle, DNA damage response (DDR)), whole-cell metabolism (glucose and lipid), and autophagy. Here we review all these different non-apoptotic roles, make an attempt to link them to the apoptotic roles, and present many open questions for future research directions in this fascinating field.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Autophagy / genetics*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle / genetics*
  • Cell Survival
  • Electron Transport
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / genetics
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitophagy / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Unfolded Protein Response*


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Glucose
  • Calcium