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Mol Cancer Ther. 2006 Apr;5(4):927-34.

Curcumin induces caspase-3-dependent apoptotic pathway but inhibits DNA fragmentation factor 40/caspase-activated DNase endonuclease in human Jurkat cells.

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Laboratory of Molecular Bases of Aging, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, 3 Pasteura, 02-093 Warsaw, Poland.


Curcumin is a natural pigment that has been shown to induce cell death in many cancer cells; however, the death mode depends on the cell type and curcumin concentration. Here we show that, in Jurkat cells, 50 micromol/L curcumin severely lowers cell survival and induces initial stage of chromatin condensation. It also induces caspase-3, which is sufficient to cleave DNA fragmentation factor 45 [DFF45/inhibitor of caspase-activated DNase (ICAD)], the inhibitor of DFF40/CAD endonuclease. However, the release of DFF40/CAD from its inhibitor does not lead to oligonucleosomal DNA degradation in curcumin-treated cells. Moreover, curcumin treatment protects cells from UVC-induced oligonucleosomal DNA degradation. In biochemical experiments using recombinant DFF activated with caspase-3, we show that curcumin inhibits plasmid DNA and chromatin degradation although it does not prevent activation of DFF40/CAD endonuclease after its release from the inhibitor. Using DNA-binding assay, we show that curcumin does not disrupt the DNA-DFF40/CAD interaction. Instead, molecular modeling indicates that the inhibitory effect of curcumin on DFF40/CAD activity results from curcumin binding to the active center of DFF40/CAD endonuclease.

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