Possible involvement of DNA strand breaks in regulation of cell differentiation


The present review summarizes data on the accumulation of DNA strand breaks in differentiating cells. Large 50 Kbp free DNA fragments were observed by several research teams in non-apoptotic insect, mammal and plant cells. A more intensive DNA breakage was observed during maturation of spermatides, embryo development, and differentiation of myotubes, epidermal cells, lymphocytes and neutrophils. In general, accumulation of DNA strand breaks in differentiating cells cannot be attributed to decrease of the DNA repair efficiency. Poly(ADP)ribose synthesis often follows the DNA breakage in differentiating cells. We hypothesize that DNA fragmentation is an epigenetic tool for regulation of the differentiation process. Scarce data on localization of the differentiation- associated DNA strand breaks indicate their preferred accumulation in specific DNA sequences including the nuclear matrix attachment sites and repeats. Recent data on non-apoptotic functions of caspases provide more evidence for possible existence of a DNA breakage mechanism in differentiating cells resembling the initial stage of apoptosis. Excision of methylated cytosine and recombination are other possible explanations of the phenomenon. Elucidation of mechanisms of differentiation-induced DNA strand breaks appears to possess considerable research potential.



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Original Papers
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How to Cite
Sjakste, N., & Sjakste, T. (2009). Possible involvement of DNA strand breaks in regulation of cell differentiation. European Journal of Histochemistry, 51(2), 81-94. https://doi.org/10.4081/1129