Programmed cell death (PCD) is a process aimed at the removal of redundant, misplaced, or damaged cells and it is essential to the development and maintenance of multicellular organisms. In contrast to the relatively well-described cell death pathway in animals, often referred to as apoptosis, mechanisms and regulation of plant PCD are still ill-defined. Several morphological and biochemical similarities between apoptosis and plant PCD have been described, including DNA laddering, caspase-like proteolytic activity, and cytochrome c release from mitochondria. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have emerged as important signals in the activation of plant PCD. In addition, several plant hormones may exert their respective effects on plant PCD through the regulation of ROS accumulation. The possible plant PCD regulators discussed in this review are integrated in a model that combines plant-specific regulators with mechanisms functionally conserved between animals and plants.
Copyright 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.