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Molecular Mechanisms of Apoptosis


The cells in our bodies are in a constant process of renewal. Therefore “old” cells have to die. Also, infected or transformed cells need to be removed. Cells can kill themselves by activation of programmed cell death also named “apoptosis”. This is a very complex, tightly regulated process that secures that cells die at the right moment without an effect on total body function. Disturbance of the apoptotic process is related to numerous diseases like cancer, neurodegeneration and AIDS. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that control apoptosis could identify new therapeutic targets for pharmaceutical intervention in apoptosis.
The contents of the caput course are the biochemical and cell biological processes that are involved in apoptosis.
We will start with an introduction about the concept “apoptosis in living organisms” including the role of apoptosis in health and disease. In the next series of sessions the various mechanisms in induction, commitment and execution of apoptosis will be discussed including death receptors, Bcl-2 family members, p53, stress response proteins, caspases and signal transduction pathways.
The course includes an oral presentation and a written examination.


Prof. Dr. B. van de Water


Basic Cell Biology and Biochemistry.




Former bachelor students of ‘Bio-Farmaceutische Wetenschappen’ can use the following book for additional reading:

‘Mechanistic Toxicology’ by Urs A Boelsterli, Publishers: Taylor and Francis, ISBN 0-415-28459-7.


Oral presentation and written examination.


The course will be given on Wednesdays from 16 Februari to 6 April, 2010, time: 9.00—12.45 h.


Application by e-mail to