HMGB1, a very mobile chromatin protein, leaks out from necrotic cells and signals to neighbouring cells that tissue damage has occurred. At least one receptor for extracellular HMGB1 exists, and signals to different cells to divide, migrate, activate inflammation or start an immune response. Remarkably, apoptotic chromatin binds HMGB1 irreversibly, thereby ensuring that it will not diffuse away to activate responses from neighbouring cells. Thus, dying cells use their own chromatin to signal how they have died. We argue that the nuclear events in apoptosis serve to control the molecular signals that dying cells send out.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Structural Biology