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Lee, G.G., Kikuno, K., Nair, S., Park, J.H. (2013). Mechanisms of Postecdysis-Associated Programmed Cell Death of Peptidergic Neurons in Drosophila melanogaster.  J. Comp. Neurol. 521(17): 3972--3991.
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Crustacean cardioactive peptide (CCAP)-expressing neurons undergo programmed cell death (PCD) within 24 hours after adult eclosion. A subset of the doomed CCAP neurons in the ventral nerve cord also expressed the neuropeptide bursicon and thus are referred to as bursCCAP neurons. In this study, we undertook comprehensive genetic and transgenic analyses to dissect the PCD mechanisms of bursCCAP neurons. Expression of a versatile caspase inhibitor, p35, blocked PCD of bursCCAP neurons, suggesting caspase-dependent apoptosis. Further genetic analyses showed that Dronc/Dark and Drice are key caspases, but they are not sufficient to carry out the PCD fully. We did not find a role for other known caspases, Strica, Dredd, Damm, or Decay. Of interest, Dcp-1 is required not for the death of bursCCAP neurons per se but for the removal of neural projections. DIAP1 is an important survival factor that inhibits premature death of bursCCAP neurons. We found that grim functions as a principal death inducer, whereas other death genes, hid, reaper, and sickle, show no endogenous function. Taken together with other studies, our work supports the role of grim as a major death inducer particularly for the removal of obsolete larval neurons during CNS metamorphosis. Results from the ectopic expression of the mutant grim lacking either N-terminal IBM or internal GH3 domain indicated that both domains are necessary to induce CCAP cell death.

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    J. Comp. Neurol.
    Journal of Comparative Neurology
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