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Apoptotic cell death during animal development: Layers of regulation

30 Jun Apoptotic cell death during animal development Part of Randall Centre for Cell & Molecular Biophysics Seminar Series

Speaker: Professor Barbara Conradt, Cell Developmental Biology, Division of Biosciences, UCL.

Host: Professor Jody Rosenblatt

Apoptosis is a type of programmed cell death that is conserved throughout the animal kingdom. The pathway that triggers apoptosis in unwanted cells includes pro- and anti-apoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family of proteins, Apaf-1-like proteins and members of the caspase family of cysteine proteases. In unwanted cells, BH3-only proteins become activated and this leads to an increase in the activity of caspases. Once caspase activity has reached a critical ‘lethal activity’ threshold, apoptosis is executed in the unwanted cell. How the apoptosis pathway is activated in vivo is not fully understood. We are studying the deaths of specific cells during C. elegans development and this has provided a comprehensive framework of the molecular and cellular processes that culminate in the reproducible, robust and rapid removal of unwanted cells during C. elegans development. We also have uncovered an auto-regulatory loop for apoptosis pathway activation that involves a novel non-canonical function of the pathway in asymmetric cell division.

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