The genes ces-1 and ces-2 control the decisions of two cells in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to undergo programmed cell death. Mutations that cause a gain of ces-1 function or a reduction of ces-2 function prevent these cells, the sisters of the two pharyngeal NSM neurons, from dying. These mutations do not affect most other cell deaths. Genetic studies indicate that ces-1 and ces-2 affect the fates of the NSM sisters by regulating the genes required for all programmed cell deaths to occur.

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