(ap"o-to\'sis)Programmed cell death. The fragmentation of a cell into membrane-bound particles that are eliminated by phagocytosis. Apoptosis is a physiological suicide mechanism that preserves homeostasis and occurs during normal tissue turnover. It is responsible for cell death in pathological circumstances, such as exposure to low concentrations of xenobiotics and infections by HIV and various other viruses. Apoptotic cells display profound structural changes such as plasma membrane blebbing and nuclear collapse. DNA is cleaved into short oligonucleosomal length DNA fragments. Apoptosis usually occurs after the activation ofr calcium-dependent endogenous endonuclease.
Microbiology. Aard_Wark . 2009.