A connection in life and death: The BCL-2 family coordinates mitochondrial network dynamics and stem cell fate

Int Rev Cell Mol Biol. 2020;353:255-284. doi: 10.1016/bs.ircmb.2019.12.005. Epub 2020 Jan 27.


The B cell CLL/lymphoma-2 (BCL-2) family of proteins control the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis, also known as intrinsic apoptosis. Direct binding between members of the BCL-2 family regulates mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP) after an apoptotic insult. The ability of the cell to sense stress and translate it into a death signal has been a major theme of research for nearly three decades; however, other mechanisms by which the BCL-2 family coordinates cellular homeostasis beyond its role in initiating apoptosis are emerging. One developing area of research is understanding how the BCL-2 family of proteins regulate development using pluripotent stem cells as a model system. Understanding BCL-2 family-mediated regulation of mitochondrial homeostasis in cell death and beyond would uncover new facets of stem cell maintenance and differentiation potential.

Keywords: Apoptosis; BCL-2 family; Mitochondria; Mitochondrial dynamics; Pluripotency; Stem cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Death
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Dynamics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2