Cells are continuously exposed to various stress factors that endanger their functionality and thus, their ability to cope with stress. The ability of cells to adapt and survive by restoring homeostasis is an integral component of cellular physiology. However, if the stress is persistent and homeostasis cannot be restored, the molecular machinery is ‘switched on’ to eliminate the dysregulated and damaged cells. Stress activated molecular pathways called cellular stress responses decide cells’ fate. Despite the presence of many distinct stress factors and a variety of related stress responses such as hypoxia, unfolding proteins, DNA damage, and oxidative stress responses, eventually, the cells will have to decide whether or not to trigger apoptosis. Dysregulation, or mistakes in activating cell death as a stress response, can have dramatic consequences for the entire organism and contributes to many human pathologies including aging, cancers, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Consequently, therapeutic approaches that exploit stress response-related signaling networks have become a hot topic in medicine and the biomedical sciences. Despite continuous research to decipher the cell fate-responsible components of the cellular stress response signaling pathways, their utility in therapeutic approaches has still been limited in scope and the molecular mechanisms by which stressed cells promote adaptation or apoptosis remain underappreciated and poorly understood. Recently, non-coding RNAs have been recognized as being required for proper development of cellular stress responses. Clearly, more research is needed to elucidate the molecular patterns of both the disease-specific and physiological signaling pathways that determine a cell’s fate.
For this Special Issue of Cellular & Molecular Biology Letters, we encourage the submission of reviews and primary research articles that aim to understand what shifts the balance between opposing cellular fates during cellular stress.
Guest Editor: Rafal Bartoszewski, University of Wrocław, Poland
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