DRONC, an ecdysone-inducible Drosophila caspase

Loretta Dorstyn, Paul A. Colussi, Leonie M. Quinn, Helena Richardson, Sharad Kumar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

245 Citations (Scopus)


Caspases play an essential role in the execution of programmed cell death in metazoans. Although 14 caspases are known in mammals, only a few have been described in other organisms. Here we describe the identification and characterization of a Drosophila caspase, DRONC, that contains an amino terminal caspase recruitment domain. Ectopic expression of DRONC in cultured cells resulted in apoptosis, which was inhibited by the caspase inhibitors p35 and MIHA. DRONC exhibited a substrate specificity similar to mammalian caspase-2. DRONC is ubiquitously expressed in Drosophila embryos during early stages of development. In late third instar larvae, drone mRNA is dramatically upregulated in salivary glands and midgut before histolysis of these tissues. Exposure of salivary glands and midgut isolated from second instar larvae to ecdysone resulted in a massive increase in drone mRNA levels. These results suggest that DRONC is an effector of steroid-mediated apoptosis during insect metamorphosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4307-4312
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes


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