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REVIEW: Endonucleases and Apoptosis in Animals

N. I. Aleksandrushkina and B. F. Vanyushin*

Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119991 Moscow, Russia; E-mail: vanyush@belozersky.msu.ru

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received July 16, 2012
Endonucleases are the main instruments of obligatory DNA degradation in apoptosis. Many endonucleases have marked processive action; initially they split DNA in chromatin into very large domains, and then they perform in it internucleosomal fragmentation of DNA followed by its hydrolysis to small fragments (oligonucleotides). During apoptosis, DNA of chromatin is attacked by many nucleases that are different in activity, specificity, and order of action. The activity of every endonuclease is regulated in the cell through its own regulatory mechanism (metal ions and other effectors, possibly also S-adenosylmethionine). Apoptosis is impossible without endonucleases as far as it leads to accumulation of unnecessary (defective) DNA, disorders in cell differentiation, embryogenesis, the organism’s development, and is accompanied by various severe diseases. The interpretation of the structure and functions of endonucleases and of the nature and action of their modulating effectors is important not only for elucidation of mechanisms of apoptosis, but also for regulation and control of programmed cell death, cell differentiation, and development of organisms.
KEY WORDS: programmed cell death, apoptosis, DNases, endonucleases

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297912130032