Regulated inhibition of programmed cell death (apoptosis) preserves normal homeostasis and tissue and organ morphogenesis. Aberrations in this process contribute to human diseases and cancer by abnormally prolonging cell viability. Recently, several apoptosis inhibitors related to the baculovirus iap gene have been found in various species, including human. IAP proteins contain one/three Cys/His baculovirus IAP repeats plus a C-terminal RING finger and are thought to block an evolutionary conserved step in apoptosis. Survivin encodes a structurally unique inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP). Survivin expression is turned off during fetal development and is not found in non-neoplastic adult human tissues. Survivin becomes abundantly re-expressed in transformed cells and in all of the most common cancers of lung, colon, pancreas, breast and prostate in vivo. Survivin appears to be situated at the crossroads of cell death and cell division, governing a checkpoint involved in cytokinesis while also suppressing apoptosis. Survivin is also abundantly expressed in brain tissues (astrocytes and some neurons) of adult rats following traumatic brain injury. Survivin has been found co-expressed with NeuN (mature neuronal marker) and PCNA (a cell cycle protein). Survivin might affect regulation of neural cell proliferative responses after brain injury.
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