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EMBO Rep. 2006 Sep;7(9):933-9. Epub 2006 Aug 11.

Cytochrome c-d regulates developmental apoptosis in the Drosophila retina.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Strang Laboratory of Cancer Research, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue Box 252, 10021, New York, New York 10021, USA.


The role of cytochrome c (Cyt c) in caspase activation has largely been established from mammalian cell-culture studies, but much remains to be learned about its physiological relevance in situ. The role of Cyt c in invertebrates has been subject to considerable controversy. The Drosophila genome contains distinct cyt c genes: cyt c-p and cyt c-d. Loss of cyt c-p function causes embryonic lethality owing to a requirement of the gene for mitochondrial respiration. By contrast, cyt c-d mutants are viable but male sterile. Here, we show that cyt c-d regulates developmental apoptosis in the pupal eye. cyt c-d mutant retinas show a profound delay in the apoptosis of superfluous interommatidial cells and perimeter ommatidial cells. Furthermore, there is no apoptosis in mutant retinal tissues for the Drosophila homologues of apoptotic protease-activating factor 1 (Ark) and caspase 9 (Dronc). In addition, we found that cyt c-d--as with ark and dronc-regulates scutellar bristle number, which is known to depend on caspase activity. Collectively, our results indicate a role of Cyt c in caspase regulation of Drosophila somatic cells.

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