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New Biol. 1991 Feb;3(2):103-9.

Death by suicide: one way to go in mammalian cellular development?

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Division of Immunology, Medical Biology Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037.


Cell deaths occur selectively in many types of tissues throughout development. These physiological deaths appear to follow an orderly process of internal cellular disintegration that is distinct from the process observed in cell death resulting from trauma. Studies of a variety of physiological cell deaths have revealed that this process appears generally to involve the active participation of the dying cell in its own death. In other words, physiological cell death seems to be a process of induced cellular self-destruction, or cell suicide. Whether a single, genetically determined mechanism is utilized in all cell suicides remains to be established. Nonetheless, while genome digestion and intracellular calcium rises are dissociable from, and thus neither necessary nor sufficient for, cell death, control of the cell cycle may be critical in all cases of induced cell suicide. It is proposed here that physiological cell death occurs through a process of abortive mitosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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