The behaviour of plasma membrane was studied in UV-treated cells to investigate its involvement in apoptosis. It was studied in HL60 cells, in which DNA oligonucleosomic cleavage occurs, and in Molt-4 cells, which are characterised by a different fragmentation pattern. During the early stages of apoptosis, a membrane lipid rearrangement occurs, which involves phosphatidylserine translocation from the inner to the outer leaflet. This molecular alteration was investigated by annexin VFITC binding, analysed by flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. It was correlated with transmission electron microscopy, subdiploid peak appearance and DNA fragmentation. Our data indicate that the plasma membrane represents an early apoptotic target, even if its alterations are not detectable by ultrastructural analysis, which indicates its good preservation until late apoptotic stages. In addition, the study of apoptotic cells with absent or inactivated endonuclease demonstrates the independence of this membrane mechanism from nuclear activity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology