An essential role for the caspase Dronc in developmentally programmed cell death in Drosophila

Leonie M. Quinn, Loretta Dorstyn, Kathryn Mills, Paul A. Colussi, Po Chen, Michelle Coombe, John Abrams, Sharad Kumar, Helena Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


Dronc is a caspase recruitment domain-containing Drosophila caspase that is expressed in a temporally and spatially restricted fashion during development. Dronc is the only fly caspase known to be regulated by the hormone ecdysone. Here we show that ectopic expression of dronc in the developing fly eye leads to increased cell death and an ablated eye phenotype that can be suppressed by halving the dosage of the genes in the H99 complex (reaper, hid, and grim) and enhanced by mutations in diap1. In contrast to previous reports, we show that the dronc eye ablation phenotype can be suppressed by coexpression of the baculoviral caspase inhibitor p35. Dronc also interacts, both genetically and biochemically, with the CED-4/Apaf-1 fly homolog, Dark. Furthermore, extracts made from Dark homozygous mutant flies have reduced ability to process Dronc, showing that Dark is required for Dronc processing. Finally, using the RNA interference technique, we show that loss of Dronc function in early Drosophila embryos results in a dramatic decrease in cell death, indicating that Dronc is important for programmed cell death during embryogenesis. These results suggest that Dronc is a key caspase mediating programmed cell death in Drosophila.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40416-40424
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 22 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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