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Mol Cell Biol. 2006 Oct;26(19):7258-68.

DRONC coordinates cell death and compensatory proliferation.

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Department of Genetics, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan.


Accidental cell death often leads to compensatory proliferation. In Drosophila imaginal discs, for example, gamma-irradiation induces extensive cell death, which is rapidly compensated by elevated proliferation. Excessive compensatory proliferation can be artificially induced by "undead cells" that are kept alive by inhibition of effector caspases in the presence of apoptotic stimuli. This suggests that compensatory proliferation is induced by dying cells as part of the apoptosis program. Here, we provide genetic evidence that the Drosophila initiator caspase DRONC governs both apoptosis execution and subsequent compensatory proliferation. We examined mutants of five Drosophila caspases and identified the initiator caspase DRONC and the effector caspase DRICE as crucial executioners of apoptosis. Artificial compensatory proliferation induced by coexpression of Reaper and p35 was completely suppressed in dronc mutants. Moreover, compensatory proliferation after gamma-irradiation was enhanced in drice mutants, in which DRONC is activated but the cells remain alive. These results show that the apoptotic pathway bifurcates at DRONC and that DRONC coordinates the execution of cell death and compensatory proliferation.

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