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Methods. 1999 Apr;17(4):329-38.

Detection of DNA fragmentation and endonucleases in apoptosis.

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Institute for Biological Sciences, National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0R6, Canada.


DNA degradation during apoptosis is endonuclease mediated and proceeds through an ordered series of stages commencing with the production of large DNA pieces of 300 kb which are then degraded to fragments of 50 kb. The 50-kb fragments are further degraded, in some but not all cells, to smaller pieces (10-40 kb) releasing the small oligonucleosome fragments that are detected as a characteristic DNA ladder on conventional agarose gels. Methodology is presented for the detection of both DNA ladders and the initial stages of DNA fragmentation using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. We have developed electrophoresis conditions that resolve large fragments of DNA and also retain the smaller fragments on the same gel. Methods for the detection of endonuclease activities responsible for the cleavage of DNA during apoptosis are also presented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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