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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Oct 29;93(22):12094-7.

Programmed cell death: a way of life for plants.

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  • 1Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder 80309, USA.


Cell death in higher plants has been widely observed in predictable patterns throughout development and in response to pathogenic infection. Genetic, biochemical, and morphological evidence suggests that these cell deaths occur as active processes and can be defined formally as examples of programmed cell death (PCD). Intriguingly, plants have at least two types of PCD, an observation that is also true of PCD in animals [Schwartz, L. M., Smith, W.W., Jones, M. E. E. & Osborne, B. A. (1993) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 90, 980-984]. Thus, in plants, PCD resembles either a common form of PCD seen in animals called apoptosis or it resembles a morphologically distinct form of cell death. The ubiquitous occurrence and necessity of PCD for plant development and defense suggest that the underlying mechanisms of regulation and execution of these processes merit further examination.

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