Noncanonical cell death programs in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

E. S. Blum, M. Driscoll, S. Shaham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Genetic studies of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans have uncovered four genes, egl-1 (BH3 only), ced-9 (Bcl-2 related), ced-4 (apoptosis protease activating factor-1), and ced-3 (caspase), which function in a linear pathway to promote developmental cell death in this organism. While this core pathway functions in many cells, recent studies suggest that additional regulators, acting on or in lieu of these core genes, can promote or inhibit the onset of cell death. Here, we discuss the evidence for these noncanonical mechanisms of C. elegans cell death control. We consider novel modes for regulating the core apoptosis genes, and describe a newly identified cell death pathway independent of all known C. elegans cell death genes. The existence of these noncanonical cell death programs suggests that organisms have evolved multiple ways to ensure appropriate cellular demise during development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1124-1131
Number of pages8
JournalCell Death and Differentiation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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