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Science. 2004 Aug 6;305(5685):855-8.

A plant vacuolar protease, VPE, mediates virus-induced hypersensitive cell death.

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  • 1Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan.


Programmed cell death (PCD) in animals depends on caspase protease activity. Plants also exhibit PCD, for example as a response to pathogens, although a plant caspase remains elusive. Here we show that vacuolar processing enzyme (VPE) is a protease essential for a virus-induced hypersensitive response that involves PCD. VPE deficiency prevented virus-induced hypersensitive cell death in tobacco plants. VPE is structurally unrelated to caspases, although VPE has a caspase-1 activity. Thus, plants have evolved a regulated cellular suicide strategy that, unlike PCD of animals, is mediated by VPE and the cellular vacuole.

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