Friday, October 24, 2014

Self-Destruction of Cells throughout Evolution

News Brief by Lushna Mehra

A study involving the evolutionary significance of the cell death pathway has recently undergone research.  Apoptosis is the formal term for the self-destruction of cells in an intricate pathway.  The initiator of cell death, the caspase-8 (Casp8) protein in particular, is beginning to be understood.  It was found that the Casp8’s activity started more than 500 million years ago, yet it still exists, so it must be essential to function in the animal kingdom.  Professor Sakamaki noted that it is especially significant that even the simpler animals have kept Casp8.  His lab conducted an experiment that successfully showed that placing Casp8 proteins from non-mammalians into mammalian cells still allowed for the activation of the cell death pathways in mammals.  They also demonstrated that Casp8 and FADD protein interactions are consistently observed across the animal kingdom, stressing the importance of cell-to-cell communication in a functional death pathway.  Thus, the evolutionary conservation of the cell death pathway has shown its integral role in mammalian evolution by ridding systems of non-functional, unhealthy, excessive, or dangerous cells.

Works Cited:
Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press). "Cellular self-destruct program has deep roots throughout evolution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2014. .

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