The role of PML in the control of apoptotic cell fate: a new key player at ER–mitochondria sites
P Pinton, C Giorgi, and PP Pandolfi
The development of malignant tumors results from deregulated proliferation or an inability of cells to undergo apoptotic cell death. Experimental works of the past decade have highlighted the importance of calcium (Ca2þ) in the regulation of apoptosis. Several studies indicate that the Ca2þ content of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) determines the cell’s sensitivity to apoptotic stress and perturbation of ER Ca2þ homeostasis appears to be a key component in the development of several pathological situations. Sensitivity to apoptosis depends on the ability of cells to transfer Ca2þ from the ER to the mitochondria. The physical platform for the interplay between the ER and mitochondria is a domain of the ER called the mitochondria-associated membranes (MAMs). The disruption of these contact sites has profound consequences for cellular function, such as imbalances of intracellular Ca2þ signaling, cellular stress, and disrupted apoptosis progression. The promyelocytic leukemia (PML) protein has been previously recognized as a critical and essential regulator of multiple apoptotic response. Nevertheless, how PML would exert such broad and fundamental role in apoptosis remained for long time a mystery. In this review, we will discuss how recent results demonstrate that the elusive mechanism whereby the PML tumor suppressor exerts its essential role in apoptosis triggered by Ca2þ-dependent stimuli can be attributed to its unexpected and fundamental role at MAMs in the control of the functional cross-talk between ER and mitochondria.