Apoptosis is related to many diseases and development. The p53 tumor-suppressor protein induces apoptosis through transcriptional activation of several genes. A novel p53 inducible pro-apoptotic gene was identified recently and designated PUMA (for p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis) and bbc3 (for Bcl-2 binding component 3) in human and mouse (1-3). PUMA/bbc3 is one of the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members including Bax and Noxa, which are also transcriptional targets of p53. The PUMA gene encodes two BH3 domain-containing proteins termed PUMA-alpha and PUMA-beta (1). PUMA proteins bind Bcl-2, localize to the mitochondria, and induce cytochrome c release and apoptosis in response to p53. PUMA may be a direct mediator of p53-induced apoptosis.
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