Mcl-1 targeting could be an intriguing perspective to cure cancer

Renza Vento, Anna De Blasio, Riccardo Di Fiore, Riccardo Di Fiore, Renza Vento

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The Bcl-2 family, which plays important roles in controlling cancer development, is divided into antiapoptotic and proapoptotic members. The change in the balance between these members governs the life and death of the cells. Mcl-1 is an antiapoptotic member of this family and its distribution in normal and cancerous tissues strongly differs from that of Bcl-2. In human cancers, where upregulation of antiapoptotic proteins is common, Mcl-1 expression is regulated independent of Bcl-2 and its inhibition promotes senescence, a major barrier to tumorigenesis. Cancer chemotherapy determines various kinds of responses, such as senescence and autophagy; however, the ideal response to chemotherapy is apoptosis. Mcl-1 is a potent oncogene that is regulated at the transcriptional, posttranscriptional, and posttranslational levels. Mcl-1 is a short-lived protein that, in the NH2 terminal region, contains sites for posttranslational regulation that can lead to proteasomal degradation. The USP9X Mcl-1 deubiquitinase regulates Mcl-1 and the levels of these two proteins are strongly correlated. Mcl-1 has three splicing variants (the antiapoptotic protein Mcl-1L and the proapoptotic proteins Mcl-1S and Mcl-1ES), each contributing toward apoptosis regulation. In cancers responsible for the most deaths in the world, the presence of Mcl-1 is associated with malignant cell growth and evasion of apoptosis. Mcl-1 is also one of the key regulators of cancer stem cells’ self-renewal that contributes to tumor survival. A great number of indirect and selective Mcl-1 inhibitors have been produced and some of these have shown efficacy in several clinical trials. Thus, therapeutic manipulation of Mcl-1 can be a useful strategy to combat cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8482-8498
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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