Cooper5e_Ch17

The identification and characterization of these

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Unformatted text preview: nematode. The identification and characterization of these genes was a critical first step leading to our current understanding of the molecular biology of apoptosis. The Experiments Cells undergoing programmed cell death in C. elegans can readily be identified as highly refractile cells by microscopic examination, so Ellis and Horvitz were able to use this as an assay to screen for mutant animals in which the normal cell deaths did not occur. To isolate mutants that displayed abnormalities in cell death, they treated nematodes with the chemical mutagen ethyl methanesulfonate, which reacts with DNA. The progeny of approximately 4000 worms were examined to identify dying cells, and two mutant strains were found in which the expected cell deaths did not take place (see figure). Both of these mutant strains harbored recessive mutations of the same gene, which was called ced-3. Further studies indicated that the mutations in ced-3 blocked all of the 131 programmed cell deaths that would normally occur during deve...
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