CELL SUICIDE OR CELL EUTHANASIA?
Janitor cells that engulf their dead compatriots are not averse to finishing off the job on a cell that’s only nearly dead. Engulfment itself can promote cell suicide (apoptosis), H. Robert Horvitz of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, and colleagues have found from studies of apoptosis-regulating genes in the roundworm, Caenorhabditis elegans (Nature, Vol. 412, No. 6843, 12 Jul 2001).
Also in this week’s Nature, Michael O. Hengartner, of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and colleagues explain how they have used time-lapse video microscopy to follow, in detail, how genes regulate cell suicide. They too conclude that the genes that mediate corpse removal can also actively kill cells.
The extent and timing of apoptosis has important consequences for development, body maintenance, tumour formation and disease, explain Douglas R. Green and Helen M. Beere of La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, San Diego, California, in an accompanying News and Views article.
Michael O Hengartner (currently at the University of Zurich)
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H Robert Horvitz
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Douglas R. Green
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(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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