New type of programmed cell death found in fly gut

(ORDO NEWS) — Japanese scientists have discovered a completely new type of programmed cell death, which ensures constant tissue renewal in the intestines of Drosophila flies. The process is called erebosis. Now researchers are looking to find out if other animals, including humans, have it.

Programmed death occurs due to intracellular processes. It allows you to remove damaged or diseased cells before they have time to harm the body. Today, there are more than ten different types of cell death, among which apoptosis is the most well-known.

Now, scientists from the RIKEN Biosystems Dynamics Research Center (Japan) have discovered a completely new type of cell death that occurs in the intestines of the common Drosophila fly. This process, called erebosis, plays an important role in intestinal metabolism.

The results of the work, published in the journal PLoS Biology, challenge the generally accepted concept of programmed cell death and refute the previously existing theory of intestinal homeostasis.

The cells that make up the intestines are constantly being updated. The traditional theory says that senescent and damaged cells die as a result of apoptosis.

During this process, the cell breaks up into separate bodies, limited by the plasma membrane, which are destroyed by immune cells within 1-3 hours. However, a new study provides evidence for a different type of cell death that is specific to the gut.

Scientists have studied the enzyme ANCE, which is responsible for lowering pressure. They noticed that the expression of ANCE in the gut of the flies was heterogeneous, and the cells containing it looked strange.

Later, scientists found that these cells were dying: they were dark, lacking nuclear membranes, mitochondria and cytoskeleton, and sometimes even DNA and other cellular elements necessary for survival.

The name “erebosis” comes from the Greek word erebos – “darkness”.
It passes gradually, in contrast to rapid apoptosis. Cells containing ANCE were often found near the sites where new intestinal cells were formed, so the scientists hypothesized that erebosis was associated with tissue renewal.

After that, the researchers showed that stopping apoptosis does not interfere with the normal renewal of intestinal cells.

In addition, none of the molecular markers of apoptosis or other known types of programmed death were found in dying cells. Only in the late stages of erebosis did cells secrete a common marker of cell death associated with DNA degradation.

It turned out that the ANCE enzyme, which was the reason for the discovery, probably does not directly participate in erebosis, since changes in its expression did not affect the process itself.

Therefore, scientists are striving to uncover the molecular mechanisms of erebosis, and in addition, to find out whether it occurs in the intestines of other animals, including humans.

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