A study published in tomorrow's Science provides new details of how the transcription factor NF-kB protects cells from apoptosis. C.-Y. Wang and colleagues report they have identified four genes that are targets of NF-kB activity. The genes work together to prevent activation of caspase-8, an enzyme that destroys proteins and plays a crucial and early role in apoptosis. Cancer researchers are interested in manipulating apoptotic pathways in order to destroy tumor cells. Conversely, researchers working on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's might target such pathways as a way to block cell death. (See related news item for another mechanism by which NF-kB may prevent apoptosis.)—June Kinoshita
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