Acinus is a caspase-3-activated protein required for apoptotic chromatin condensation

Nature. 1999 Sep 9;401(6749):168-73. doi: 10.1038/43678.


Apoptosis is defined by several unique morphological nuclear changes, such as chromatin condensation and nuclear fragmentation. These changes are triggered by the activation of a family of cysteine proteases called caspases, and caspase-activated DNase (CAD/DFF40) and lamin protease (caspase-6) have been implicated in some of these changes. CAD/DFF40 induces chromatin condensation in purified nuclei, but distinct caspase-activated factor(s) may be responsible for chromatin condensation. Here we use an in vitro system to identify a new nuclear factor, designated Acinus, which induces apoptotic chromatin condensation after cleavage by caspase-3 without inducing DNA fragmentation. Immunodepletion experiments showed that Acinus is essential for apoptotic chromatin condensation in vitro, and an antisense study revealed that Acinus is also important in the induction of apoptotic chromatin condensation in cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Biological Transport
  • COS Cells
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspases / metabolism*
  • Cattle
  • Cell Nucleus / physiology
  • Chromatin / physiology*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA Fragmentation
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Nuclear Proteins / physiology*
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Thymus Gland / metabolism


  • ACIN1 protein, human
  • Chromatin
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • CASP3 protein, human
  • Casp3 protein, mouse
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspases

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF124725
  • GENBANK/AF124726
  • GENBANK/AF124727
  • GENBANK/AF124728
  • GENBANK/AF124729