Aberrations of apoptosis are implicated in many diseases, including cancer, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease and neurodegeneration. The cell's apoptotic machinery is, therefore, an important potential target for the development of new therapies. Our laboratory has used a strategy called technical knockout (TKO) to identify novel genes involved in apoptosis. TKO is based on random inactivation of gene expression with antisense cDNA libraries, followed by selection of those cells that survive in the continuous presence of an apoptotic stimulus. Using this approach, we have isolated five novel genes, including a serine/threonine kinase, a nucleotide-binding protein and a homologue of the p220 translation initiation factor. Expression of one of these genes (DAP kinase) is lost in some cancers, and this loss appears to increase the metastatic potential of some tumours.