Volume 5 of the series Pezcoller Foundation Symposia pp 1-13

Genetic Control of Programmed Cell Death in the Nematode Caenorhabditis Elegans

  • H. Robert HorvitzAffiliated withHoward Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Naturally-occurring or “programmed” cell death appears to be a universal aspect of animal development (e.g., Ref. 1). For example, massive cell death occurs during the development of the mammalian fetus, particularly in the fetal brain; in areas of the developing vertebrate nervous system as many as 85% of the developing neurons die. Similarly, about 95% of developing thymocytes die without ever leaving the thymus. Why such cell deaths occur and how they are regulated are fundamental problems in developmental biology.