The induction of apoptosis leads to a substantial inhibition of protein synthesis. During this process changes to the translation-initiation factors, the ribosome and the cellular level of mRNA have been documented. However, it is by no means clear which of these events are necessary to achieve translational shutdown. In this article, we discuss modifications to the translational apparatus that occur during apoptosis and examine the potential contributions that they make to the inhibition of protein synthesis. Moreover, we present evidence that suggests that a global increase in the rate of mRNA degradation occurs before the caspase-dependent cleavage of initiation factors. Increased mRNA decay is temporally correlated with the shutdown of translation and therefore plays a major role in the inhibition of protein synthesis in apoptotic cells.

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