Characterization of apoptosis-like endonuclease activity in avian thymocytes

Khaled Machaca, Mark M. Compton

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11 Citations (Scopus)


In the current study the internucleosomal DNA cleavage activity associated with apoptosis was investigated in avian thymocytes. Thymocyte nuclear proteins from glucocorticoid-treated chickens were incubated with chicken red blood cell (cRBC) nuclei, and DNA degradation was analyzed by agarose gel electrophoresis and fluorescence-activated flow cytometry. The thymocyte nuclear extract contained an endonuclease activity that degraded cRBC chromatin at internucleosomal sites as detected by agarose gel electrophoresis. Flow cytometry analysis of cRBC nuclei that were treated with thymocyte nuclear proteins demonstrated a loss of cellular DNA as a function of the amount of added nuclease activity. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that the thymocyte nuclear extract contained a nuclease activity that was capable of degrading radiolabelled naked 32P-DNA into acid soluble DNA fragments. All three assay methods demonstrate that the thymocyte nuclease activity can be inhibited by EDTA, zinc ions and the nuclease inhibito aurintricarboxylic acid. Based on the analysis of cofactor requirement of this nuclease activity and its susceptibility to inhibitors, the endonuclease activity present in avian apoptotic thymocytes appears to be identical to the mammalian counterpart.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-22
Number of pages8
JournalBiology of the Cell
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1992



  • apoptosis
  • endonuclease
  • flow cytometry
  • thymocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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