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When dying, bacteria share some characteristics with higher organisms

Do bacteria, like higher organisms, have a built-in program that tells them when to die? The process of apoptosis, or cell death, is an important part of normal animal development. In a new study published March 6 in the online, open-access journal PLoS Biology, Hanna Engelberg-Kulka and colleagues (at Hadassah Medical School of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel) have described for the first time a novel cell death pathway in bacteria that is similar to apoptosis in higher organisms. They also found that this newly described apoptotic-like death (ALD) pathway was inhibited by another non-apoptotic programmed cell death (PCD) pathway, mediated through the mazEF toxin-antitoxin system.

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