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J Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Nov 30;40(6):1095-9.

Ectopic expression of mitochondria endonuclease Pnu1p from Schizosaccharomyces pombe induces cell death of the yeast.

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Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, Okayama University of Science, 1-1 Ridaicho, Okayama 700-0005, Japan.


Endonuclease G (EndoG) is a mitochondrial non-specific nuclease that is highly conserved among the eukaryotes. Although the precise role of EndoG in mitochondria is not yet known, the enzyme is released from the mitochondria and digests nuclear DNA during apoptosis in mammalian cells. Schizosaccharomyces pombe has an EndoG homolog Pnu1p (previously named SpNuc1) that is produced as a precursor protein with a mitochondrial targeting sequence. During the sorting into mitochondria the signal sequence is cleaved to yield the functionally active endonuclease. From the analogy to EndoG, active extramitochondrial Pnu1p may trigger cell killing by degrading nuclear DNA. Here, we tested this possibility by expressing a truncated Pnu1p lacking the signal sequence in the extramitochondrial region of pnu1-deleted cells. The truncated Pnu1p was localized in the cytosol and nuclei of yeast cells. And ectopic expression of active Pnu1p led to cell death with fragmentation of nuclear DNA. This suggests that the Pnu1p is possibly involved in a certain type of yeast cell death via DNA fragmentation. Although expression of human Bak in S. pombe was lethal, Pnu1p nuclease is not necessary for hBak-induced cell death.

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