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Nature. 1998 Jan 1;391(6662):96-9.

Cleavage of CAD inhibitor in CAD activation and DNA degradation during apoptosis.

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Department of Genetics, Osaka University Medical School, Suita, Japan.


Various molecules such as cytokines and anticancer drugs, as well as factor deprivation, rapidly induce apoptosis (programmed cell death), which is morphologically characterized by cell shrinkage and the blebbing of plasma membranes and by nuclear condensation. Caspases, particularly caspase 3, are proteases that are activated during apoptosis and which cleave substrates such as poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase, actin, fodrin, and lamin. Apoptosis is also accompanied by the internucleosomal degradation of chromosomal DNA. In the accompanying Article, we have identified and molecularly cloned a caspase-activated deoxyribonuclease (CAD) and its inhibitor (ICAD). Here we show that caspase 3 cleaves ICAD and inactivates its CAD-inhibitory effect. We identified two caspase-3 cleavage sites in ICAD by site-directed mutagenesis. When human Jurkat cells were transformed with ICAD-expressing plasmid, occupation of the receptor Fas, which normally triggers apoptosis, did not result in DNA degradation. The ICAD transformants were also resistant to staurosporine-induced DNA degradation, although staurosporine still killed the cells by activating caspase. Our results indicate that activation of CAD downstream of the caspase cascade is responsible for internucleosomal DNA degradation during apoptosis, and that ICAD works as an inhibitor of this process.

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