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Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019 Feb 5;2019:2348165. doi: 10.1155/2019/2348165. eCollection 2019.

Increased Transfection of the Easily Oxidizable GC-Rich DNA Fragments into the MCF7 Breast Cancer Cell.

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Research Centre for Medical Genetics (RCMG), Moscow 115478, Russia.
Bach Institute of Biochemistry, Biotechnology Research Center, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow 119071, Russia.
N. I. Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University, Moscow 117997, Russia.
I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (Sechenov University), Moscow 119991, Russia.



Easily oxidizable GC-rich DNA (GC-DNA) fragments accumulate in the cell-free DNA (cfDNA) of patients with various diseases. The human oxidized DNA penetrates the MCF7 breast cancer cells and significantly changes their physiology. It can be assumed that readily oxidizable GC-DNA fragments can penetrate the cancer cells and be expressed.


MCF7 cells were cultured in the presence of two types of GC-DNA probes: (1) vectors pBR322 and pEGFP and (2) plasmids carrying inserted human rDNA (pBR322-rDNA and pEGFP-rDNA). pEGFP and pEGFP-rDNA contained a CMV promoter and a fluorescent protein gene EGFP. ROS generation rate, accumulation of the DNA probes in MCF7, 8-oxodG content, expression of EGFP and NOX4, and localization of EGFP, NOX4, and 8-oxodG in MCF7 were explored. The applied methods were qPCR, fluorescent microscopy (FM), immunoassay, and flow cytometry (FCA).


When GC-DNA is added to the cell culture medium, it interacts with the cell surface. At the site of GC-DNA contact with the cell, NOX4 is expressed, and ROS level increases. The ROS oxidize the GC-DNA. When using the plasmids pEGFP and pEGFP-rDNA, an increase in the amount of the DNA EGFP, RNA EGFP, and EGFP proteins was detected in the cells. These facts suggest that GC-DNA penetrates the cells and the EGFP gene is expressed. Insertions of the rDNA significantly increase the GC-DNA oxidation degree as well as the rate of plasmid transfection into the cells and the EGFP expression level. In the nucleus, the oxidized GC-rDNA fragments, but not the vectors, are localized within the nucleolus.


GC-rich cfDNA fragments that are prone to oxidation can easily penetrate the cancer cells and be expressed. The cfDNA should become a target for the antitumor therapy.

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