C. elegans cell survival gene ced-9 encodes a functional homolog of the mammalian proto-oncogene bcl-2

Cell. 1994 Feb 25;76(4):665-76. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(94)90506-1.


The activity of the C. elegans gene ced-9 is required to protect cells that normally survive from undergoing programmed cell death. Here we describe the cloning and molecular characterization of this gene. ced-9 is an element of a polycistronic locus that also contains the gene cyt-1, which encodes a protein similar to cytochrome b560 of complex II of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. ced-9 encodes a 280 amino acid protein showing sequence and structural similarities to the mammalian proto-oncogene bcl-2. Overexpression of bcl-2 can mimic the protective effect of ced-9 on C. elegans cell death and can prevent the ectopic cell deaths that occur in ced-9 loss-of-function mutants. These results suggest that ced-9 and bcl-2 are homologs and that the molecular mechanism of programmed cell death has been conserved from nematodes to mammals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Apoptosis
  • Base Sequence
  • Caenorhabditis / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / growth & development*
  • Cell Survival*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Consensus Sequence
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Helminth*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • DNA Primers
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • RNA, Messenger

Associated data

  • GENBANK/L26545
  • GENBANK/L26546