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Cell Death Differ. 2006 Nov;13(11):1950-9. Epub 2006 Mar 10.

Illuminating the role of caspases during Drosophila oogenesis.

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Department of Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT 06520-8005, USA.


Cell death is a prominent feature of animal germline development. In Drosophila, the death of 15 nurse cells is linked to the development of each oocyte. In addition, females respond to poor environmental conditions by inducing egg chamber death prior to yolk uptake by the oocyte. To study these two forms of cell death, we analyzed caspase activity in the germline by expressing a transgene encoding a caspase cleavage site flanked by cyan fluorescent protein and yellow fluorescent protein. When expressed in ovaries undergoing starvation-induced apoptosis, this construct was an accurate reporter of caspase activity. However, dying nurse cells at the end of normal oogenesis showed no evidence of cytoplasmic caspase activity. Furthermore, although expression of the caspase inhibitors p35 or Drosophila inhibitor of apoptosis protein 1 blocked starvation-induced death, it did not affect normal nurse cell death or overall oogenesis in well-fed females. Our data suggest that caspases play no role in developmentally programmed nurse cell death.

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