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Dev Cell. 2004 Dec;7(6):909-15.

Drosophila caspase DRONC is required for specific developmental cell death pathways and stress-induced apoptosis.

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Hanson Institute, Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, PO Box 14, Rundle Mall, Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia.


Proteases of the caspase family play key roles in the execution of apoptosis. In Drosophila there are seven caspases, but their roles in cell death have not been studied in detail due to a lack of availability of specific mutants. Here, we describe the generation of a specific mutant of the Drosophila gene encoding DRONC, the only caspase recruitment domain (CARD) containing apical caspase in the fly. dronc mutants are pupal lethal and our studies show that DRONC is required for many forms of developmental cell deaths and apoptosis induced by DNA damage. Furthermore, we demonstrate that DRONC is required for the autophagic death of larval salivary glands during metamorphosis, but not for histolysis of larval midguts. Our results indicate that DRONC is involved in specific developmental cell death pathways and that in some tissues, effector caspase activation and cell death can occur independently of DRONC.

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