The cisd gene family regulates physiological germline apoptosis through ced-13 and the canonical cell death pathway in Caenorhabditis elegans
by Skylar D. King, Chipo F. Gray, Luhua Song, Rachel Nechushtai, Tina L. Gumienny, Ron Mittler & Pamela Padilla
Programmed cell death, which occurs through a conserved core molecular pathway, is important for fundamental developmental and homeostatic processes. The human iron-sulfur binding protein NAF-1/CISD2 binds to Bcl-2 and its disruption in cells leads to an increase in apoptosis. Other members of the CDGSH iron sulfur domain (CISD) family include mitoNEET/CISD1 and Miner2/CISD3. In humans, mutations in CISD2 result in Wolfram syndrome 2, a disease in which the patients display juvenile diabetes, neuropsychiatric disorders and defective platelet aggregation. The C. elegans genome contains three previously uncharacterized cisd genes that code for CISD-1, which has homology to mitoNEET/CISD1 and NAF-1/CISD2, and CISD-3.1 and CISD-3.2, both of which have homology to Miner2/CISD3. Disrupting the function of the cisd genes resulted in various germline abnormalities including distal tip cell migration defects and a significant increase in the number of cell corpses within the adult germline. This increased germ cell death is blocked by a gain-of-function mutation of the Bcl-2 homolog CED-9 and requires functional caspase CED-3 and the APAF-1 homolog CED-4. Furthermore, the increased germ cell death is facilitated by the pro-apoptotic, CED-9-binding protein CED-13, but not the related EGL-1 protein. This work is significant because it places the CISD family members as regulators of physiological germline programmed cell death acting through CED-13 and the core apoptotic machinery.
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