PerspectiveMolecular Biology

Dicer's Cut and Switch

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Science  16 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5976, pp. 314-315
DOI: 10.1126/science.1189245

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Apoptosis is an essential developmental process in which a highly concerted series of biochemical events directs cell disassembly and death. Degradation of chromosomal DNA is a defining characteristic of apoptosis, involving distinct deoxyribonucleases that initiate DNA fragmentation (initiator DNases) and metabolize residual DNA (progressive DNases). On page 327 of this issue, Nakagawa et al. (1) report an unexpected role in apoptotic DNA degradation for an enzyme that was previously known for its role in RNA interference (RNAi).