Endonuclease activation is a characteristic feature of apoptosis. This degrades genomic DNA at internucleosomal linker regions and produces 180- to 185- base-pair DNA fragments. On agarose gel electrophoresis, these give a characteristic "laddered" appearance. The dying cell's morphological changes are short-lived and difficult to detect. DNA laddering has therefore become a sensitive method to distinguish apoptosis from ischemic or toxic cell death.
- M Iwata, D Myerson, B Torok-Storb and RA Zager (1996). "An evaluation of renal tubular DNA laddering in response to oxygen deprivation and oxidant injury". Retrieved 17 April. Unknown parameter
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