Apoptosis is a regulated energy‐dependent process for the elimination of unnecessary or damaged cells during embryonic development, tissue homeostasis and many pathological conditions. Apoptosis is characterized by specific morphological and biochemical features in which caspase activation has a pivotal role. During apoptosis, cells undergo characteristic morphological reorganizations in which the cytoskeleton participates actively. Traditionally, this cytoskeleton rearrangement has been assigned mainly to actinomyosin ring contraction, with microtubule and intermediate filaments both reported to be depolymerized at early stages of apoptosis. However, recent results have shown that microtubules are reformed during the execution phase of apoptosis forming an apoptotic microtubule network (AMN). Current hypothesis proposes that AMN is required to maintain plasma membrane integrity and cell morphology during the execution phase of apoptosis. AMN disruption provokes apoptotic cell collapse, secondary necrosis and the subsequent release of toxic molecules which can damage surrounding cells and promote inflammation. Therefore, AMN formation in physiological or pathological apoptosis is essential for tissue homeostasis.
Part of the book: Cytoskeleton