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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2011 Apr;1813(4):597-607. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2010.10.008. Epub 2010 Oct 13.

Mitochondrial involvement in cell death of non-mammalian eukaryotes.

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Cutaneous Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Building 149, 13th Street, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


Although mitochondria are essential organelles for long-term survival of eukaryotic cells, recent discoveries in biochemistry and genetics have advanced our understanding of the requirements for mitochondria in cell death. Much of what we understand about cell death is based on the identification of conserved cell death genes in Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans. However, the role of mitochondria in cell death in these models has been much less clear. Considering the active role that mitochondria play in apoptosis in mammalian cells, the mitochondrial contribution to cell death in non-mammalian systems has been an area of active investigation. In this article, we review the current research on this topic in three non-mammalian models, C. elegans, Drosophila, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In addition, we discuss how non-mammalian models have provided important insight into the mechanisms of human disease as they relate to the mitochondrial pathway of cell death. The unique perspective derived from each of these model systems provides a more complete understanding of mitochondria in programmed cell death. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Mitochondria: the deadly organelle.

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