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FEBS Lett. 1994 Sep 5;351(2):150-4.

Formation of 50 kbp chromatin fragments in isolated liver nuclei is mediated by protease and endonuclease activation.

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Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Isolated rat liver nuclei were incubated in the presence of divalent cations, and the mechanisms underlying the subsequent chromatin fragmentation were investigated. Either of the two cations, Ca2+ or Mg2+ was sufficient to produce chromatin fragments with sizes between 700 and 300 kbp. The formation of chromatin fragments of 50 kbp as well as the following internucleosomal DNA cleavage--which are characteristic of apoptosis--were markedly stimulated in the presence of Ca2+. Chromatin degradation to 50 kbp and smaller (oligonucleosome-size) fragments was prevented by inhibitors of endonucleases and serine proteases. We suggest a mechanism whereby the concerted activity of both proteases and endonucleases results in the widespread chromatin cleavage observed in cells undergoing apoptosis.

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