Genome-wide RNAi identifies p53-dependent and -independent regulators of germ cell apoptosis in C. elegans

Cell Death Differ. 2004 Nov;11(11):1198-203. doi: 10.1038/sj.cdd.4401488.


We used genome-wide RNA interference (RNAi) to identify genes that affect apoptosis in the C. elegans germ line. RNAi-mediated knockdown of 21 genes caused a moderate to strong increase in germ cell death. Genetic epistasis studies with these RNAi candidates showed that a large subset (16/21) requires p53 to activate germ cell apoptosis. Apoptosis following knockdown of the genes in the p53-dependent class also depended on a functional DNA damage response pathway, suggesting that these genes might function in DNA repair or to maintain genome integrity. As apoptotic pathways are conserved, orthologues of the worm germline apoptosis genes presented here could be involved in the maintenance of genomic stability, p53 activation, and fertility in mammals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair
  • Epistasis, Genetic
  • Genetic Techniques
  • Genome
  • Genotype
  • Germ Cells / metabolism*
  • Germ Cells / pathology
  • Models, Biological
  • RNA Interference*
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53