Apoptosis is characterized by several morphological nuclear changes including chromatin condensation and nuclear fragmentation. These changes are triggered by the activation of members of caspase family, caspase activated DNase, and several novel proteins (1). A novel gene, the product of which causes chromatin condensation and DNA fragmentation, was recently identified, cloned, and designated apoptosis inducing factor (AIF) (2). Like the critical molecules, cytochrome c and caspase-9, in apoptosis, AIF localizes in mitochondria. AIF translocates to the nucleus when apoptosis is induced and induces mitochondria to release the apoptogenic proteins cytochrome c and caspase-9. AIF induces chromatin condensation and DNA fragmentation, which are the hallmarks of apoptosis, of the isolated nucleus and the nucleus in live cells by microinjection. AIF is highly conserved between human and mouse and widely expressed (2).
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