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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2000 Apr 2;270(1):94-9.

DNA induces apoptosis in electroporated human promonocytic cell line U937.

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Allergy Research Center and Department of Immunology, Juntendo University School of Medicine, 2-1-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8421, Japan.


Experimental gene transfer has permitted a wide variety of studies on gene regulation and function. However, possible effects of the introduced DNA on cellular metabolism are not well understood. Here we demonstrated that introduction of DNA into a promonocytic cell line, U937, by electroporation caused extensive cell death. The toxicity of DNA was concentration-dependent. Various DNAs including plasmid and genomic DNAs all caused cell death, indicating that the toxicity is nucleotide sequence-independent. DNA-induced cell death was associated with internucleosomal DNA fragmentation, a decrease in cell size, and a considerable proportion of cells outside cell cycle. From these results, we concluded that cells died by apoptosis. Our findings have experimental implication for an important issue concerning the interpretation of experiments using gene transfer. In addition, we propose that our observed phenomenon may be relevant to an important immune defense mechanism in monocytes/macrophages that facilitates a response to certain viral infections.

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