October 2008


By Michael J. Katin, MD

It was on September 3, 2008, that Herbert McDunnough failed at his final opportunity to make the mortgage payment on his residence in Florence, Arizona. The domino effect from that act is yet only starting to be appreciated.

Where else have we seen a single act resulting in such utter destruction? Two examples would be the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand precipitating World War I, and damage to a cell starting the cascade to apoptosis.

Does cell biology recapitulate human behavior, or vice-versa? If this is true, what message does this send for us to ignore? Let's look at the sequence:

  1. Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary is shot by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip. Irradiation triggers the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis Failure to pay this mortgage, which was in a mortgage pool created by the Federal National Mortgage Association, affects the projected balance of bundled mortgage-backed securities.
  2. Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia. Pro-apoptotic BCL2 proteins activate pro-apoptotic proteins BAX or BAK, which then approach the mitochondrial membranes. One too many mortgage failures affects the value of mortgage-backed securities
  3. Germany, an ally of Austria-Hungary, declares war on Russia, an ally of Serbia, declares war on France, and invades Belgium. Damage to the mitochondrial membranes allows leakage of cytochrome-C and pro-apoptotic protein SMAC/DIABLO. Because of the projected decreased value of financial stocks supported by mortgage incomes, there is a rush to move money from stocks into bonds, causing a rapid drop in market values worldwide
  4. Great Britain declares war on Germany. Japan declares war on Germany (I didn't know that, either). Cytochrome C binds APAF1, forming an apoptosome. . Private and government funds move in to support Lehman Brothers and AIG.
  5. Trench warfare begins. Germany attacks Great Britain by air Caspase 9 is activated by apoptosomes. The bailout of AIG is not received well and the stock market plunges again.
  6. Turkey enters the war. The Allies attack Gallipoli and are eventually repulsed. Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary. Caspase 9 activates caspases 3,6, and 7. A large scale bailout is proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson. Stocks rise.
  7. Poison gas is used by Germany in Ypres. The Lusitania is sunk by a U-boat. Caspases 3, 6, and 7 start to destroy essential cellular proteins. Details of the bailout are presented and not received well Stocks drop precipitously.
  8. The United States enters the war. Eventually there are 9,700,000 military and 10,000,000 civilian deaths. The war enables the rise of the Soviet Communist state and Nazi Germany The cell shrinks as its cytoskeleton is destroyed, it undergoes pyknosis, its DNA breaks down, and it finally fragments into multiple small pieces and is phagocytosed. Bob Geldof and Bono pay off Herbert McDunnough's mortgage. The Dow rises to 14,000. Oil is $20 a barrel. The Cubs win the World Series.