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Eur J Cell Biol. 1993 Dec;62(2):397-405.

Overexpression of deoxyribonuclease I (DNase I) transfected into COS-cells: its distribution during apoptotic cell death.

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Institut für Zytobiologie und Zytopathologie, Philipps-Universität, Marburg, Germany.


COS-cells were transiently transfected with the pSG5 plasmid containing the cDNA of rat parotid deoxyribonuclease I (DNase I) either in right or inverse orientation. Expression of DNase I in transfected cells was only observed when the plasmid contained the cDNA in the right orientation. Expression of DNase I was monitored by measuring the DNase I specific DNA-degrading activity present in the conditioned cell culture medium and in cell homogenates. The expressed DNase I activity could be inhibited by monospecific polyclonal antibodies and by G-actin. Immunofluorescence indicated that approximately 20% of the COS-cells transfected with the DNase I-cDNA in right orientation expressed DNase I. These transfected cells contained large amounts of DNase I, which was found to be localized within the rough endoplasmic reticulum, the Golgi-complex and finally concentrated in a perinuclear location. Occasionally cells were observed which contained the DNase I in small apparently secretory transport vesicles. Transfected cells with perinuclear concentration of DNase I exhibited progressive nuclear destruction, i.e., pyknosis and cytoplasmic shrinkage. Solely the DNA extracted from isolated nuclei of cells transfected with the DNase I-cDNA in correct orientation revealed an internucleosomal DNA-degradation (ladder formation) typical for apoptosis after incubation in the presence of CaCl2 and MgCl2. Only the conditioned medium of COS-cells transfected with the right-oriented DNase I-cDNA contained the nucleolytic activity able to internucleosomally degrade the chromatin of substrate nuclei. Thus, these results indicate that overexpression of DNase I alone is sufficient to induce the morphological and biochemical changes observed during apoptosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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