The baculovirus P35 protein functions to prevent apoptotic death of infected cells. We have expressed P35 in the developing embryo and eye of the fly Drosophila melanogaster. P35 eliminates most, if not all, normally occurring cell death in these tissues, as well as X-irradiation-induced death. Excess pupal eye cells that are normally eliminated by apoptosis develop into pigment cells when their death is prevented by P35 expression. Our results suggest that one mechanism by which viruses prevent the death of the host cell is to block a cell death pathway that mediates normally occurring cell death. Identification of molecules that interact biochemically or genetically with P35 in Drosophila should provide important insights into how cell death is regulated.

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