Genetic control of programmed cell death in the nematode C. elegans

Cell. 1986 Mar 28;44(6):817-29. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(86)90004-8.


The wild-type functions of the genes ced-3 and ced-4 are required for the initiation of programmed cell deaths in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. The reduction or loss of ced-3 or ced-4 function results in a transformation in the fates of cells that normally die; in ced-3 or ced-4 mutants, such cells instead survive and differentiate, adopting fates that in the wild type and associated with other cells. ced-3 and ced-4 mutants appear grossly normal in morphology and behavior, indicating that programmed cell death is not an essential aspect of nematode development. The genes ced-3 and ced-4 define the first known step of a developmental pathway for programmed cell death, suggesting that these genes may be involved in determining which cells die during C. elegans development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis / cytology*
  • Caenorhabditis / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Survival*
  • Male
  • Mutation*
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, Dopamine / analysis
  • Receptors, Serotonin / analysis


  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Receptors, Serotonin