Cell proliferation and cell death are two opposing, yet complementary fundamental processes in development. Cell proliferation provides new cells, while developmental programmed cell death adjusts cell numbers and refines structures as an organism grows. Apoptosis is the best-characterized form of programmed cell death; however, there are many other non-apoptotic forms of cell death that occur throughout development. Drosophila
is an excellent model for studying these varied forms of cell death given the array of cellular, molecular, and genetic techniques available. In this review, we discuss select examples of apoptotic and non-apoptotic cell death that occur in different tissues and at different stages of Drosophila
development. For example, apoptosis occurs throughout the nervous system to achieve an appropriate number of neurons. Elsewhere in the fly, non-apoptotic modes of developmental cell death are employed, such as in the elimination of larval salivary glands and midgut during metamorphosis. These and other examples discussed here demonstrate the versatility of Drosophila
as a model organism for elucidating the diverse modes of programmed cell death.
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