Purpose: Despite its common use as an indicator of apoptosis, little is known about the mechanisms controlling apoptotic DNA fragmentation in irradiated cells. This review discusses the pathways of chromatin fragmentation, and the role of both nucleases and chromatin structure in this process. Definitions: DNA fragmentation linked to apoptosis is a combination of cleavage events excising both large DNA fragments within the range 0.4- 1.0 Mbp and 50 kbp followed by random cuts within internucleosomal regions (i.e. DNA laddering). The first two cleavage steps can be detected in virtually all apoptotic cells, but DNA laddering is not ubiquitously observed. Endonucleases that mediate this cleavage of chromatin may be classified by substrate specificity, mode of DNA cleavage and their cofactor requirements. Conclusions: Three major pathways of DNA fragmentation are proposed and discussed: (1) upregulation of endonucleases, (2) their intranuclear/intracellular redistribution and (3) primary changes of chromatin structure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering