Role of protein kinase activity in apoptosis

Experientia. 1996 Oct 31;52(10-11):979-94. doi: 10.1007/BF01920107.


The transmission of signals from the plasma membrane to the nucleus involves a number of different pathways all of which have in common protein modification. The modification is primarily in the form of phosphorylation which leads to the activation of a series of protein kinases. It is now evident that these pathways are common to stimuli that lead to mitogenic and apoptotic responses. Even the same stimuli under different physiological conditions can cause either cell proliferation or apoptosis. Activation of specific protein kinases can in some circumstances protect against cell death, while in others it protects the cell against apoptosis. Some of the pathways involved lead to activation of transcription factors and the subsequent induction of genes involved in the process of cell death or proliferation. In other cases, such as for the tumour suppressor gene product p53, activation may be initiated both at the level of gene expression or through pre-existing proteins. Yet in others, while the initial steps in the pathway are ill-defined, it is clear that downstream activation of a series of cystein proteases is instrumental in pushing the cell towards apoptosis. In this report we review the involvement of protein kinases at several different levels in the control of cell behaviour.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Cell Cycle
  • DNA-Activated Protein Kinase
  • DNA-Binding Proteins*
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Phosphoproteins / physiology
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / metabolism
  • Protein Kinase C / physiology*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor)
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • DNA-Activated Protein Kinase
  • PRKDC protein, human
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Protein Kinase C