In Drosophila oogenesis, the programmed cell death of germline cells occurs predominantly at three distinct stages. These cell deaths are subject to distinct regulatory controls, as cell death during early and midoogenesis is stress-induced, whereas the cell death of nurse cells in late oogenesis is developmentally regulated. In this report, we show that the effector caspase Drice is activated during cell death in both mid- and late oogenesis, but that the level and localization of activity differ depending on the stage. Active Drice formed localized aggregates during nurse cell death in late oogenesis; however, active Drice was found more ubiquitously and at a higher level during germline cell death in midoogenesis. Because Drice activity was limited in late oogenesis, we examined whether another effector caspase, Dcp-1, could drive the unique morphological events that occur normally in late oogenesis. We found that premature activation of the effector caspase, Dcp-1, resulted in a disappearance of filamentous actin, rather than the formation of actin bundles, suggesting that Dcp-1 activity must also be restrained in late oogenesis. Overexpression of the caspase inhibitor DIAP1 suppressed cell death induced by Dcp-1 but had no effect on cell death during late oogenesis. This limited caspase activation in dying nurse cells may prevent destruction of the nurse cell cytoskeleton and the connected oocyte.
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