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The Nature of Programmed Cell Death

Ramsey, Grant and Durand, Pierre (2018) The Nature of Programmed Cell Death. Biological Theory. ISSN 1555-5550

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Abstract

In multicellular organisms, cells are frequently programmed to die. This makes good sense: cells that fail to, or are no longer playing important roles are eliminated. From the cell’s perspective, this also makes sense, since somatic cells in multicellular organisms require the cooperation of clonal relatives. In unicellular organisms, however, programmed cell death (PCD) poses a difficult and unresolved evolutionary problem. The empirical evidence for PCD in diverse microbial taxa has spurred debates about what precisely PCD means in the case of unicellular organisms (how it should be defined). In this article, we survey the concepts of PCD in the literature and the selective pressures associated with its evolution. We show that definitions of PCD have been almost entirely mechanistic and fail to separate questions concerning what PCD fundamentally is from questions about the kinds of mechanisms that realize PCD. We conclude that an evolutionary definition is best able to distinguish PCD from closely related phenomena. Specifically, we define “true” PCD as an adaptation for death triggered by abiotic or biotic environmental stresses. True PCD is thus not only an evolutionary product but must also have been a target of selection. Apparent PCD resulting from pleiotropy, genetic drift, or trade-offs is not true PCD. We call this “ersatz PCD.”


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Ramsey, Grantgrant@theramseylab.org0000-0002-8712-5521
Durand, Pierrepierre.durand@wits.ac.za0000-0002-9614-1371
Keywords: Adaptation; Aging; Apoptosis; Price equation; Programmed cell death; Selection; Unicellular organisms
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Biology > Function/Teleology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
Depositing User: Dr. Grant Ramsey
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2018 06:14
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2018 06:14
Item ID: 15344
Journal or Publication Title: Biological Theory
Publisher: Springer
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13752-018-0311-0
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13752-018-0311-0
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Biology > Function/Teleology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
Date: 8 November 2018
ISSN: 1555-5550
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15344

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