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

The cloning and expression of human deoxyribonuclease II. A possible role in apoptosis.

We have previously implicated deoxyribonuclease II (DNase II) as an endonuclease responsible for DNA digestion during apoptosis. The full-length human cDNA has now been cloned. The cDNA contains an open reading frame of 1078 bases coding for a 40-kDa protein. This protein is 10 kDa larger than commercially supplied enzyme, which has been proteolytically cleaved at an internal aspartate residue. The gene is located at chromosome 19p13.2, and has no significant homology to other human proteins, but has >30% identity to three predicted genes in Caenorhabditis elegans. To determine whether overexpression of DNase II induces apoptosis in Chinese hamster ovary cells, the cDNA was cotransfected with a plasmid encoding green fluorescent protein. Within 24 h, a significant proportion of green fluorescent protein-positive cells contained condensed chromatin, whereas vector-only controls remained viable. Considering that DNase II is normally active only at low pH, it was surprising that transfection induced chromatin condensation. To confirm that transfection was not activating another endonuclease, cells were incubated with the caspase inhibitor benzyloxycarbonyl-Val-Ala-Asp-(O-methyl)-fluoromethylketone; this failed to inhibit chromatin condensation induced by DNase II. These results demonstrate that DNase II acts downstream of caspase activation and that it may be activated by an as yet unknown mechanism to induce DNA digestion during apoptosis.[1]


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