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The Evolutionary Origins of Life and Death$
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Pierre M. Durand

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226747620

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226747934.001.0001

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Mechanisms and Measures of Programmed Cell Death in the Unicellular World

Mechanisms and Measures of Programmed Cell Death in the Unicellular World

Chapter:
(p.89) 10 Mechanisms and Measures of Programmed Cell Death in the Unicellular World
Source:
The Evolutionary Origins of Life and Death
Author(s):

Pierre M. Durand

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226747934.003.0011

In prokaryotes, the mechanisms and measures of PCD are, for the most part, well understood. The toxin-antitoxin (TA) modules like MazEF, for example, can be encoded on chromosomes or plasmids, and their molecular biology has been dissected. In unicellular eukaryotes the methodologies for detecting PCD are problematic. In some cases, the PCD mechanisms and pathways are broadly documented, but significant gaps remain. The measures for detecting PCD have frequently been imported from cell studies in multicellular organisms, which has led to inconsistencies and problematic interpretations of what positive or negative findings mean. The most used methodologies are contrasted, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. Transmission electron microscopy, the TUNEL and annexin V assays, DNA fragmentation and ROS detection are included. Changes in gene regulation and the activity of effector enzymes like metacaspases and caspases are discussed. The values of the different methodologies are assessed in terms of whether they may be a ‘gold standard’, or ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ signs and markers of PCD.

Keywords:   toxin-antitoxin, MazEF, caspase, metacaspase, annexin V, TUNEL, DNA fragmentation, ROS

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