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Annu Rev Genet. 2009;43:493-523. doi: 10.1146/annurev.genet.42.110807.091533.

Genetic control of programmed cell death during animal development.

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Department of Genetics, Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755, USA.


The elimination of unwanted cells by programmed cell death is a common feature of animal development. Genetic studies in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, and the mouse have not only revealed the molecular machineries that cause the programmed demise of specific cells, but have also allowed us to get a glimpse of the types of pathways that regulate these machineries during development. Rather than serving as a broad overview of programmed cell death during development, this review focuses on recent advances in our understanding of the regulation of specific programmed cell death events during nematode, fly, and mouse development. Recent studies have revealed that many of the regulatory pathways involved play additional important roles in development, which confirms that the programmed cell death fate is an integral aspect of animal development.

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