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The nucleolus may undergo disassembly either reversibly during mitosis, or irreversibly in apoptosis, thus allowing the redistribution of the nucleolar proteins.We investigated here by immunocytochemistry the fate of three representative proteins, namely phosphorylated c-Myc, fibrillarin and Ki-67, and found that they behave independently in both processes: they relocate in distinct compartments during mitosis, whereas during apoptosis they may either be cleaved (Ki-67) or be extruded into the cytoplasm with a different kinetics and following an ordered, non chaotic program. The separation of these nucleolar proteins which occurs in early apoptotic nuclei continues also in the cytoplasm, and culminates in the final formation of apoptotic blebs containing different nucleolar proteins: this evidence confirms that the apoptotic bodies may be variable in size, content and surface reactivity, and include heterogeneous aggregates of nuclear proteins and/or nucleic acids.
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