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Cell death occurs in the same way in plants, animals and humans
Date:10/13/2009

Research has previously assumed that animals and plants developed different genetic programs for cell death. Now an international constellation of research teams, including one at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, has shown that parts of the genetic programs that determine programmed cell death in plants and animals are actually evolutionarily related and moreover function in a similar way. The findings were published in Nature Cell Biology October 11.

For plants and animals, and for humans as well, it is important that cells both can develop and die under controlled forms. The process where cells die under such forms is called programmed cell death. Disruptions of this process can lead to various diseases such as cancer, when too few cells die, or neurological disorders such as Parkinson's, when too many cell die.

The findings are published jointly by research teams at SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) and the Karolinska Institute, the universities of Durham (UK), Tampere (Finland), and Malaga (Spain) under the direction of Peter Bozhkov, who works at SLU in Uppsala, Sweden. The research findings are published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Cell Biology. The scientists have performed comparative studies of an evolutionarily conserved protein called TUDOR-SN in cell lines from mice and humans and in the plants norway spruce and mouse-ear cress. In both plant and animal cells that undergo programmed cell death, TUDOR-SN is degraded by specific proteins, so-called proteases.

The proteases in animal cells belong to a family of proteins called caspases, which are enzymes. Plants do not have caspases instead TUDOR-SN is broken down by so-called meta-caspases, which are assumed to be ancestral to the caspases found in animal cells. For the first time, these scientists have been able to demonstrate that a protein, TUDOR-SN, is degraded by similar proteases in both plant and anima
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Contact: Mikael Propst
Mikael.Propst@adm.slu.se
46-703-710-353
Swedish Research Council
Source:Eurekalert  

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