C. elegans MAC-1, an essential member of the AAA family of ATPases, can bind CED-4 and prevent cell death

Dayang Wu, Pei Jiun Chen, Shu Chen, Yuanming Hu, Gabriel Nuñez, Ronald E. Ellis

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45 Scopus citations


In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, CED-4 plays a central role in the regulation of programmed cell death. To identify proteins with essential or pleiotropic activities that might also regulate cell death, we used the yeast two-hybrid system to screen for CED-4-binding proteins. We identified MAC-1, a member of the AAA family of ATPases that is similar to Smallminded of Drosophila. Immunoprecipitation studies confirm that MAC-1 interacts with CED-4, and also with Apaf-1, the mammalian homologue of CED-4. Furthermore, MAC-1 can form a multi-protein complex that also includes CED-3 or CED-9. A MAC-1 transgene under the control of a heat shock promoter prevents some natural cell deaths in C. elegans, and this protection is enhanced in a ced-9(n1950sd)/+ genetic background. We observe a similar effect in mammalian cells, where expression of MAC-1 can prevent CED-4 and CED-3 from inducing apoptosis. Finally, mac-1 is an essential gene, since inactivation by RNA-mediated interference causes worms to arrest early in larval development. This arrest is similar to that observed in Smallminded mutants, but is not related to the ability of MAC-1 to bind CED-4, since it still occurs in ced-3 of ced-4 null mutants. These results suggest that MAC-1 identifies a new class of proteins that are essential for development, and which might regulate cell death in specific circumstances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2021-2031
Number of pages11
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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