When it comes to complex life — that of the multicellular variety — cell death can be just as important as survival. It allows organisms to clean house and prevent the proliferation of damaged cells that could compromise tissue function.
Several years ago, biologist Denise Montell, a distinguished professor at UC Santa Barbara, found that sometimes cells survive after what was considered the critical step in cellular suicide. Now, she and her lab have identified two key factors involved in this remarkable recovery.
The findings, published in Nature Communications, indicate that this survival mechanism may be critical to normal tissue recovery from extreme stress rather than a fluke occurrence. Understanding its nuances could also provide new strategies for treating cancers.