Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology 7, 97-108 (February 2006) | doi:10.1038/nrm1836

Subject Category: Developmental cell biology

Article series: Developmental Cell Biology

Developmental cell biology: Developmental apoptosis in C. elegans: a complex CEDnario

Guillaume Lettre1,2 & Michael O. Hengartner3  About the authors


Apoptosis, an evolutionarily conserved programme of cellular self-destruction, is essential for the development and survival of most multicellular animals. It is required to ensure functional organ architecture and to maintain tissue homeostasis. During development of the simple nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, apoptosis claims over 10% of the somatic cells that are generated ? these cells were healthy but unnecessary. Exciting insights into the regulation and execution of apoptosis in C. elegans have recently been made. These new findings will undoubtedly influence our perception of developmental apoptosis in more complex species, including humans.

Author affiliations

  1. Divisions of Genetics and Endocrinology, Children's Hospital, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.
  2. Broad Institute of Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, One Kendall Square, Massachusetts 02139, Cambridge, USA.
  3. University of Zurich, Institute of Molecular Biology, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.

Correspondence to: Michael O. Hengartner3 Email:


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