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Cell. 1994 Feb 25;76(4):665-76.

C. elegans cell survival gene ced-9 encodes a functional homolog of the mammalian proto-oncogene bcl-2.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139.


The activity of the C. elegans gene ced-9 is required to protect cells that normally survive from undergoing programmed cell death. Here we describe the cloning and molecular characterization of this gene. ced-9 is an element of a polycistronic locus that also contains the gene cyt-1, which encodes a protein similar to cytochrome b560 of complex II of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. ced-9 encodes a 280 amino acid protein showing sequence and structural similarities to the mammalian proto-oncogene bcl-2. Overexpression of bcl-2 can mimic the protective effect of ced-9 on C. elegans cell death and can prevent the ectopic cell deaths that occur in ced-9 loss-of-function mutants. These results suggest that ced-9 and bcl-2 are homologs and that the molecular mechanism of programmed cell death has been conserved from nematodes to mammals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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