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Curr Biol. 2002 Jan 22;12(2):131-5.

Drosophila sickle is a novel grim-reaper cell death activator.

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Department of Biology, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.


The Drosophila genes reaper, head involution defective (hid), and grim all reside at 75C on chromosome three and encode related proteins that have crucial functions in programmed cell death (reviewed in ). In this report, we describe a novel grim-reaper gene, termed sickle, that resides adjacent to reaper. The sickle gene, like reaper and grim, encodes a small protein which contains an RHG motif and a Trp-block. In wild-type embryos, sickle expression was detected in cells of the developing central nervous system. Unlike reaper, hid, and grim, the sickle gene is not removed by Df(3L)H99, and strong ectopic sickle expression was detected in the nervous system of this cell death mutant. sickle very effectively induced cell death in cultured Spodoptera Sf-9 cells, and this death was antagonized by the caspase inhibitors p35 or DIAP1. Strikingly, unlike the other grim-reaper genes, targeted sickle expression did not induce cell death in the Drosophila eye. However, sickle strongly enhanced the eye cell death induced by expression of either an r/grim chimera or reaper.

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