DNA fragmentation in isolated nuclei from the murine IL3-dependent bone marrow cell line BAF3 could be stimulated either by decreasing pH below 6.5 or by adding microM calcium at neutral pH. An endonuclease which could also be stimulated either by a decrease in pH, to 6.5, or by the presence of microM calcium at neutral pH, was purified 10(4)-fold from nuclei of BAF3 cells. Digestion of DNA with the purified enzyme resulted in 5′-terminal hydroxyl and 3′-terminal phosphate ends. These characteristics are distinct from those described for other mammalian endonucleases. The possible role of this enzyme in genome digestion during apoptosis is discussed.

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