The companion site to the new book on cell death

Archive for October, 2010

Martin Raff on Means to an End

Martin Raff, Emeritus Professor in the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology at UCL and one of authors of the classic textbook Molecular Biology of The Cell was kind enough to write the Foreword to Means to an End. Here is some of what he had to say:

Biologists have been relatively slow to recognize and study the degradation processes that operate in cells, compared to the generative processes. The big bang in the cell death field came from Horvitz and colleagues at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s with the genetic identification of the caspases that mediate the apoptotic death program and the Bcl-2 proteins that activate or repress the program. These spectacular findings indicated that apoptosis is a fundamental property of animal cells and launched the subject into the cell biological stratosphere, where it remains to this day.

[The] complexity has created a pressing need for a comprehensive stock taking—a cool, clear, overview of cell death that cuts through the detail in a logical and engaging way. Doug Green has achieved all of this admirably. The writing is remarkably clear and is bolstered by simple, informative figures.

Whether you are a cell death expert or a neophyte, you are likely to find the book informative, clarifying, and enjoyable. If you are a scientist just starting your career in the cell death field, it is unlikely that you will find a better place to identify important unsolved problems to work on. If you are a drug developer, you will find an enlightened discussion of how one might design drugs to either encourage dangerous cells to kill themselves or discourage transiently injured cells from doing so. All you need to know about cell death is covered here, with panache, and all in fewer than 300 pages—a remarkable achievement.

Table of Contents


Foreword, by Martin Raff


1. A Matter of Life and Death
2. Caspases and Their Substrates
3. Caspase Activation and Inhibition
4. The Mitochondrial Pathway of Apoptosis, Part I: MOMP and Beyond
5. The Mitochondrial Pathway of Apoptosis, Part II: The BCL-2 Protein Family
6. The Death Receptor Pathway of Apoptosis
7. Other Caspase Activation Platforms
8. Nonapoptotic Cell Death Pathways
9. The Burial: Clearance and Consequences
10. Cell Death in Development
11. Cell Death and Cancer
12. The Future of Death

Figure Credits
Additional Reading