Cell Killing by the Drosophila Gene reaper

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Science  09 Feb 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5250, pp. 805-807
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5250.805


The reaper gene (rpr) is important for the activation of apoptosis in Drosophila. To investigate whether rpr expression is sufficient to induce apoptosis, transgenic flies were generated that express rpr complementary DNA or the rpr open reading frame in cells that normally live. Transcription of rpr from a heat-inducible promoter rapidly caused widespread ectopic apoptosis and organismal death. Ectopic overexpression of rpr in the developing retina resulted in eye ablation. The occurrence of cell death was highly sensitive to the dosage of the transgene. Because cell death induced by the protein encoded by rpr (RPR) could be blocked by the baculovirus p35 protein, RPR appears to activate a death program mediated by a ced-3/ICE (interleukin-1 converting enzyme)-like protease.

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