Programmed Cell Death (Apoptosis) May Be 1.8 Billion Years Old

Apoptosis, often referred to as programmed cell death, is a fundamental process crucial to the growth and development of multicellular organisms. This process, or a primordial form of it, is also observed in single-celled eukaryotes like yeast and other microeukaryotes (also known as protists). The origin of eukaryotic apoptosis remains an open question in biology. However, studies have noted that many apoptosis-initiating factors have a bacterial or mitochondrial origin, providing a clue into the evolutionary history of this widespread phenomenon. In a new study published in the October 2023 issue of Genome Biology and Evolution, scientists from the Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IBBPAS) reveal that many apoptotic factors may trace their origins to the time of mitochondrial domestication, suggesting remarkable conservation over the span of 1.8 billion years. The open-access article is titled “Apoptotic Factors Are Evolutionarily Conserved Since Mitochondrial Domestication.”
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