Regulatory Roles of JNK in Programmed Cell Death

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Programmed cell death or apoptosis is the regulatory mechanism for removing unneeded cells during animal development and in tissue homeostasis. Perturbation of the cell death mechanisms leads to various disorders, including neurodegenerative diseases, immunodeficiency diseases, and tumors. c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) has crucial roles in the regulation of cell death in response to many stimuli. Since JNK is highly conserved from yeast to mammals, genetic studies using model animals are helpful in understanding the principal cell death mechanisms regulated by JNK. For example, loss-of-function studies using the targeted disruption of murine genes have established the genetic framework of the mechanisms of the cell death induced by UV radiation. Also, in Drosophila, many cell death-related genes have been identified by genetics. Genetic studies of JNK-dependent cell death mechanisms should shed light on the regulation of both physiological and pathological cell death.

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