Chromatin fragmentation associated with apoptotic changes in tobacco cells exposed to cold stress

FEBS Lett. 1997 Sep 8;414(2):289-92. doi: 10.1016/s0014-5793(97)01008-9.


Programmed cell death (PCD) may be triggered by a variety of environmental stimuli. In this report we show that low temperature treatment of tobacco BY-2 cells results in specific chromatin changes. The early stage was characterised by chromatin condensation associated with specific endonucleolytic cleavage of the genome into fragments of 50-100 kbp in size. Later, after 2 weeks of the cold treatment, a ladder of nucleosomal units (178 bp) and their multiples occurred. Chromatin changes were accompanied by a general decrease in cell viability. However, the cell culture retained about 11% of living cells even after prolonged incubation in the cold suggesting the presence of a cold-resistant population of cells. The results support the view that PCD was activated by the cold stress. We suggest that cold-stressed tobacco BY-2 culture might be a useful system for investigation of PCD in plant cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis*
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromatin / ultrastructure*
  • Cold Temperature
  • DNA Fragmentation*
  • DNA, Plant / analysis
  • DNA, Ribosomal / analysis
  • DNA, Ribosomal / metabolism
  • Nucleosomes / ultrastructure
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • RNA, Ribosomal / biosynthesis
  • Tobacco / cytology
  • Tobacco / physiology*


  • Chromatin
  • DNA, Plant
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • Nucleosomes
  • RNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, ribosomal, 25S