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Biol Open. 2014 Apr 15;3(4):289-96. doi: 10.1242/bio.20146585.

Properties of a non-bioactive fluorescent derivative of differentiation-inducing factor-3, an anti-tumor agent found in Dictyostelium discoideum.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Institute for Molecular and Cellular Regulation, Gunma University, Maebashi 371-8512, Japan.


Differentiation-inducing factor-3 (DIF-3), found in the cellular slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum, and its derivatives, such as butoxy-DIF-3 (Bu-DIF-3), are potent anti-tumor agents. To investigate the activity of DIF-like molecules in tumor cells, we recently synthesized a green fluorescent DIF-3 derivative, BODIPY-DIF-3G, and analyzed its bioactivity and cellular localization. In this study, we synthesized a red (orange) fluorescent DIF-3 derivative, BODIPY-DIF-3R, and compared the cellular localization and bioactivities of the two BODIPY-DIF-3s in HeLa human cervical cancer cells. Both fluorescent compounds penetrated the extracellular membrane within 0.5 h and localized mainly to the mitochondria. In formalin-fixed cells, the two BODIPY-DIF-3s also localized to the mitochondria, indicating that the BODIPY-DIF-3s were incorporated into mitochondria independently of the mitochondrial membrane potential. After treatment for 3 days, BODIPY-DIF-3G, but not BODIPY-DIF-3R, induced mitochondrial swelling and suppressed cell proliferation. Interestingly, the swollen mitochondria were stainable with BODIPY-DIF-3G but not with BODIPY-DIF-3R. When added to isolated mitochondria in vitro, BODIPY-DIF-3G increased dose-dependently the rate of O2 consumption, but BODIPY-DIF-3R did not. These results suggest that the bioactive BODIPY-DIF-3G suppresses cell proliferation, at least in part, by altering mitochondrial activity, whereas the non-bioactive BODIPY-DIF-3R localizes to the mitochondria but does not affect mitochondrial activity or cell proliferation.


Anti-tumor agent; DIF; Dictyostelium discoideum; Mitochondria; Uncoupler

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