VEIDase is a principal caspase-like activity involved in plant programmed cell death and essential for embryonic pattern formation

PV Bozhkov*, LH Filonova, MF Suarez, A Helmersson, AP Smertenko, B Zhivotovsky, S von Arnold

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

120 Citations (Scopus)


Plant embryogenesis is intimately associated with programmed cell death. The mechanisms of initiation and control of programmed cell death during plant embryo development are not known. Proteolytic activity associated with caspase-like proteins is paramount for control of programmed cell death in animals and yeasts. Caspase family of proteases has unique strong preference for cleavage of the target proteins next to asparagine residue. In this work, we have used synthetic peptide substrates containing caspase recognition sites and corresponding specific inhibitors to analyse the role of caspase-like activity in the regulation of programmed cell death during plant embryogenesis. We demonstrate that VEIDase is a principal caspase-like activity implicated in plant embryogenesis. This activity increases at the early stages of embryo development that coincide with massive cell death during shape remodeling. The VEIDase activity exhibits high sensitivity to pH, ionic strength and Zn2+ concentration. Altogether, biochemical assays show that VEIDase plant caspase-like activity resembles that of both mammalian caspase-6 and yeast metacaspase, YCA1. In vivo, VEIDase activity is localised specifically in the embryonic cells during both the commitment and in the beginning of the execution phase of programmed cell death. Inhibition of VEIDase prevents normal embryo development via blocking the embryo-suspensor differentiation. Our data indicate that the VEIDase activity is an integral part in the control of plant developmental cell death programme, and that this activity is essential for the embryo pattern formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalCell Death and Differentiation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2004


  • suspensor
  • MICE
  • Norway spruce
  • embryogenesis
  • GENE
  • caspase

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