An alternatively spliced C. elegans ced-4 RNA encodes a novel cell death inhibitor

Cell. 1996 Jul 26;86(2):201-8. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)80092-6.


The C. elegans gene ced-4 is essential for programmed cell death. We report that ced-4 encodes two transcripts and that whereas the major transcript can cause programmed cell death, the minor transcript can act oppositely and prevent programmed cell death, thus defining a novel class of cell death inhibitors. That ced-4 has both cell-killing and cell-protective functions is consistent with previous genetic studies. Our results suggest that the dual protective and killer functions of the C. elegans bcl-2-like gene ced-9 are mediated by inhibition of the killer and protective ced-4 functions, respectively. We propose that a balance between opposing ced-4 functions influences the decision of a cell to live or to die by programmed cell death and that both ced-9 and ced-4 protective functions are required to prevent programmed cell death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / genetics*
  • Base Sequence
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins*
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Exons / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Genes, Helminth / physiology
  • Helminth Proteins / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • RNA Splicing / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Ced-4 protein, C elegans
  • Helminth Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger