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Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is a key part of embryonic development and tissue homeostasis in multicellular organisms. Cells undergoing apoptosis are characterized by distinct morphological changes and energy-dependent biochemical mechanisms. These characteristics include membrane blebbing, cell shrinkage, activation of caspase cascade, chromatin condensation and DNA fragmentation, as well as the production of membrane-bound apoptotic bodies. Since no single parameter entirely defines apoptosis, many different approaches are used in the study of cell death.
Alterations in the plasma membrane is a hallmark indicator of early-stage apoptosis in living cells. During the initial phases of apoptosis, phosphatidylserine (PS) residues translocate from the inner to the outer-leaflet of the plasma membrane. In cell imaging and flow cytometry, fluorescently labeled annexin V conjugates are commonly used to detect apoptotic cells by its ability to bind to externalized PS residues.
Caspases (cysteine-aspartic proteases or cysteine-dependent aspartate directed proteases) are a family of protease enzymes whose functions are intimately linked with the processes of apoptosis (programmed cell death), necrosis, and pyroptosis (inflammation). AAT Bioquest offers a plethora of reagents and kits for measuring caspase activity in real-time enzyme kinetic and end-point assay formats.
Cell proliferation is described as an increase in cell number in any given tissue in vivo or cell culture plates in vitro. Cells proliferate themselves, in their favourable conditions, by a process known as Cell Cycle. Cell cycle is defined as an event that takes place in cells, where one cell divides itself into two daughter cells. The event as a whole is mainly divided into several phases such as Gap1 (G1) phase, Synthesis (S) phase and Gap2-Mitosis (G2-M) phase. During G1 phase, cells gather enough building blocks to be able to make DNA in S phase as well create enough energy so it can sustain once they divide themselves and be able to start all over again. In G2-M phase, cells verify the DNA generated in S-phase and if everything is verified, it moves forward and divides itself into two daughter cells, dividing the content in exactly half. Cell cycle is very tightly regulated process where if any process goes wrong, it just halts the cell cycle progression. If the damage is repairable then cells try to activate the pathways that fixes the damage or if the damage is not salvageable then it does activate the apoptotic machinery to kill the cells so no anomaly spreads towards new cells generated through cell cycle process.
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