Methods for the Study of Caspase Activation in the Xenopus laevis Oocyte and Egg Extract

  • Francis McCoy
  • Rashid Darbandi
  • Leta K. Nutt
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1133)


The study of apoptosis and caspases has advanced greatly over recent decades. Studies conducted in the Xenopus laevis egg extract and oocyte model system have significantly contributed to these advances. Twenty years ago, Newmeyer and colleagues first showed that the X. laevis egg extract, when incubated at room temperature, reconstituted the key molecular events of cellular apoptosis including cytochrome c release, nuclear condensation, internucleosomal fragmentation, and caspase activation. The biochemical tractability of the egg extract system allows for robust study of apoptotic events and caspase activation. Its nature as a cell-free extract system allows substrates to be very simply added by pipette, and their effects on apoptosis and caspase activation and their placement in the apoptotic signaling pathway (e.g., pre- or post-mitochondrial) are subsequently very simply studied using the techniques described in this chapter. Also described in this chapter are assays that allow the study of caspase activation in intact oocytes, another valuable tool available when using the X. laevis model organism. Overall, the X. laevis egg extract/oocyte model is a robust, efficient, and biochemically tractable system that is ideal for the study of apoptosis and caspase activation.

Key words

Xenopus laevis Egg extract Oocytes Caspases Apoptosis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francis McCoy
    • 1
  • Rashid Darbandi
    • 1
  • Leta K. Nutt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistrySt. Jude Children’s Research HospitalMemphisUSA

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