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Summary

Programmed cell death (PCD) is a genetically determined process of cellular suicide that is activated in response to cellular stress or damage, as well as in response to the developmental signals in multicellular organisms. Although historically studied in eukaryotes, it has been proposed that PCD also functions in prokaryotes, either during the developmental life cycle of certain bacteria or to remove damaged cells from a population in response to a wide variety of stresses. This review will examine several putative examples of bacterial PCD and summarize what is known about the molecular components of these systems.