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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Endogenous endonuclease-induced DNA fragmentation: an early event in cell-mediated cytolysis.

Within minutes of exposure of target cells to cytotoxic T lymphocytes, their nuclear DNA begins to be fragmented. This phenomenon precedes 51Cr release by at least an hour. DNA fragmentation occurs only when appropriately sensitized cytotoxic T cells are used and is not merely a result of cell death because killing of target cells by heating, freeze/thawing, or lysing with antibody and complement did not yield DNA fragments. Agarose gel electrophoresis of target cell DNA showed discrete multiples of an approximately 200-base-pair subunit, suggesting that fragmentation was the result of activation of a specific endonuclease. A similar pattern of DNA fragments is observed during glucocorticoid-induced killing of mouse thymocytes. The endonuclease in that case is inhibited by zinc ions, and we find that Zn2+ also inhibits DNA fragmentation and 51Cr release induced by cytotoxic T cells, suggesting a final common biochemical pathway for both types of cell death.[1]


  1. Endogenous endonuclease-induced DNA fragmentation: an early event in cell-mediated cytolysis. Duke, R.C., Chervenak, R., Cohen, J.J. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1983) [Pubmed]
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