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Trends Cell Biol. 1995 Jan;5(1):21-6.

The role of DNA fragmentation in apoptosis.

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Dept of Physiology and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


The formation of distinct DNA fragments of oligonucleosomal size (180-200 bp lengths) is a biochemical hallmark of apoptosis in many cells. Recent observations also suggest large DNA fragments and even single-strand cleavage events occur during cell death. These observations have raised many questions. What are the types of DNA cleavage observed during apoptosis? What are the nucleases involved? And what is the role of these nucleolytic events in apoptosis?

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