The Diversification of Cell Death and Immunity: Memento Mori

Arnaud J. Legrand, Maria Konstantinou, Emily F. Goode, Pascal Meier*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


Why do cells have so many ways to die? Why does “cellular suicide” exist at all? In the war against pathogens and rogue cells, organisms developed cellular suicide as a last resort. Fighting an evolutionary arms race, cell death pathways have adapted and multiplied to cover the complexity of the foes the immune system faces. In this review, we discuss the different types of cell death, the underlying signaling events, and their unequal ability to trigger an immune response. We also comment on how to use our knowledge of cell death signaling to improve the efficacy of cancer treatment. We argue that cell death is integral to the immune response and acts as a beacon, a second messenger, that guides both immune system and tissue micro-environment to ensure tissue repair and homeostasis. Memento mori—“remember you must die”—as failure to do so opens the way to chronic infection and cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-242
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Cell
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


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