Global Analyses of Markers for Cell Death Induction by Plant Pathogens

One of the central questions in the study of cell death is that of the critical steps in the pathway that ultimately are responsible for the demise of the cell. For example, the key cellular substrates that mediate the cell death-inducing activities of caspases are not defined yet in animal apoptosis. Thus, it is still uncertain how many distinct pathways for cell death there are in any system. One approach to answer this question is the application of genetics and the study of critical components for various forms of cell death affected by defined mutations. In addition to the classical genetic approach, which could be time-consuming as well as being restricted by the types of mutant screens that can be designed, characterization of molecular markers for specific types of PCD in plants may also lead to useful tools that can generate new insights into the relationship between different types of cell death events in plants. They could enable the identification of factors that play multiple roles in plant development, which may be missed in more classical genetic screens if they are essential genes or if there are multiple genes with redundant functions.

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