The gene ced-9 of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegansacts to protect cells from programmed cell death. A mutation that abnormally activatesced-9 prevents the cell deaths that occur during normal C. elegans development. Conversely, mutations that inactivate ced-9 cause cells that normally live to undergo programmed cell death; these mutations result in embryonic lethality, indicating that ced-9 function is essential for development. The ced-9 gene functions by negatively regulating the activities of other genes that are required for the process of programmed cell death.
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