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Acta Biochim Pol. 2000;47(4):1037-44.

The DFF40/CAD endonuclease and its role in apoptosis.

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Department of Experimental and Clinical Radiobiology, Center of Oncology, Gliwice, Poland.


The sequential generation of large-scale DNA fragments followed by internucleosomal chromatin fragmentation is a biochemical hallmark of apoptosis. One of the nucleases primarily responsible for genomic DNA fragmentation during apoptosis is called DNA Fragmentation Factor 40 (DFF40) or Caspase-activated DNase (CAD). DFF40/CAD is a magnesium-dependent endonuclease specific for double stranded DNA that generates double strand breaks with 3'-hydroxyl ends. DFF40/CAD is activated by caspase-3 that cuts the nuclease's inhibitor DFF45/ICAD. The nuclease preferentially attacks chromatin in the internucleosomal linker DNA. However, the nuclease hypersensitive sites can be detected and DFF40/CAD is potentially involved in large-scale DNA fragmentation as well. DFF40/CAD-mediated DNA fragmentation triggers chromatin condensation that is another hallmark of apoptosis.

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