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34 - Caenorhabditis elegans and Apoptosis

from Part III - Cell Death in Nonmammalian Organisms

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 September 2011

Douglas R. Green
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee
Brian L. Harry
University of Colorado
Ding Xue
University of Colorado
John C. Reed
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, California
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One point that emerges from the studies of programmed cell death in C. elegans and other organisms is the striking similarity of genes and gene pathways among organisms that are as superficially distinct as worms and humans.

– H. Robert Horvitz, 2002 Nobel Lecture


Since Caenorhabditis elegans was pioneered as a research tool in the early 1970s, it has become a window for peering into programmed cell death (PCD), also known as apoptosis. A soil-dwelling organism that is 1 mm in length and transparent, C. elegans is well suited for microscopic inquiry. Its reproductive cycle lasts 2 to 3 days and begins with either self-fertilization of a hermaphrodite or cross-fertilization between a hermaphrodite and a male. Forward genetic approaches using random mutagenesis and phenotypic screening, combined with a rapid generation turnover, have made C. elegans a powerful platform for discovery of new genes in PCD.

Physiology and Pathology
, pp. 397 - 406
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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