Biotechnology Letters, Vol.43, No.10, 1967-1976, 2021
DFF40-iRGD, a novel chimeric protein with efficient cytotoxic and apoptotic effects against triple-negative breast cancer cells
Purpose DNA fragmenting factor (DFF40), an endonuclease inducing irreversible apoptosis protein, is down-regulated in many types of tumor cells. iRGD is a tumor-penetrating peptide with high affinity to cancer cells overexpressing alpha(V)beta(3) receptor. The aim of this study was to produce the recombinant DFF40-iRGD protein as a new molecule to selectively induce cytotoxicity in cancer cells and evaluate its biological effects. Methods The three-dimensional structure of DFF40-iRGD was predicted using Modeller software and its interaction with alpha(V)beta(3) receptor was evaluated by HADDOCK web-server. Recombinant DFF40 and DFF40-iRGD proteins were produced using intein fusion system in Escherichia coli BL21 (DE3). To improve the soluble expression, the inducer concentration, temperature and incubation time were optimized. After purification of DFF40 and DFF40-iRGD using chitin column, the cytotoxic and apoptotic effects of the proteins against MDA-MB-231 (alpha(V)beta(3) positive) and MCF-7 (alpha(V)beta(3) negative) cell lines were evaluated using cell viability assay and flow cytometric analysis. Results The results of molecular docking indicated the proper interaction of DFF40-iRGD with the integrin receptor comparable to iRGD. The optimum conditions of soluble expression of proteins were the induction by 0.5 mM and 0.1 mM of IPTG for DFF40 and DFF40-iRGD, respectively, at 7 degrees C for 24 h. After 48 h of incubation, DFF40-iRGD exhibited significantly higher cytotoxic effect against MDA-MB-231 cells than MCF-7 cells as IC50 values of 19.25 and 41 nM were found for MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 cells, respectively. However, DFF40 cytotoxicity was not significantly different in two cell lines. Furthermore, Flow cytometry results showed that the fusion protein can induce remarkably apoptotic cell death in cancer cells. Conclusion In this study, DFF40-iRGD protein was produced in soluble form and its inhibitory effects on cancer cell survival and induction of apoptosis were established; therefore, it has the potential to be used as a drug candidate for targeted treatment of breast cancer, especially Triple Negative Breast Cancer Cells.