Genetic and molecular studies of cell-autonomous execution during programmed cell death in C. elegans
Author(s)Driscoll, Kaitlin B. (Kaitlin Bridget)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Biology.
H. Robert Horvitz.
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Apoptosis or programmed cell death was originally defined by evolutionarily conserved morphological characteristics that include shrinkage of cell volume and chromatin condensation. Apoptosis functions as a highly controlled mechanism for the elimination of unwanted or damaged cells and is essential for disease prevention. Apoptotic cell death is a cell-autonomous process driven by the caspase family of cysteine proteases. The discovery of the CED-3 caspase in C. elegans led to the paradigm that caspase cleavage of substrates drives cell death and promotes engulfment. While many caspase substrates have been identified, it is not well understood how caspase substrates act to promote cell death and engulfment. The control of caspase activation in C. elegans is conserved among metazoans and involves the interplay of pro and anti-apoptotic BCL-2 and BH3-only family proteins. In C. elegans an increase in apoptotic cell refractility observed by Nomarski optics is one of the hallmark morphological characteristics of apoptosis. We found that the presumptive TRP channel CED-1 1 acts downstream of caspase activation in apoptotic cells to drive the increase in refractility. We discovered that CED-1 1 is also required for a decrease in cell volume and increase in nuclear permeability of apoptotic cells. We showed that CED-1 1 is required for efficient degradation of apoptotic cells and facilitates the death process, suggesting that the decrease in cell volume and/or increase in nuclear permeability could promote the death and degradation of the cell. We conclude that CED-1 1 acts downstream of caspase activation to effect multiple observed changes to apoptotic cells and to facilitate death and degradation. In addition we investigated the anti-apoptotic function of the generally pro-apoptotic BCL-2 homolog CED-9.
Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Biology, 2016.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Biology.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology