Molecular Biotechnology

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 39–48 | Cite as

Apoptotic Induction with Bifunctional E.coli Cytosine Deaminase-Uracil Phosphoribosyltransferase Mediated Suicide Gene Therapy is Synergized by Curcumin Treatment In vitro

  • P. Gopinath
  • Siddhartha Sankar GhoshEmail author


Development of novel suicide gene therapy vector with potential application in cancer treatment has a great impact on human health. Investigation to understand molecular mechanism of cell death is necessary to evaluate the therapeutic application of suicide vectors. For example, the bifunctional E.coli cytosine deaminase & uracil phosphoribosyltransferase fusion (CD-UPRT) gene expression is known to sensitize a wide range of cells toward nontoxic prodrug 5-flurocytosine (5-FC) by converting it to toxic compounds, but the exact pathway of cell death is yet to be defined. Herein, we investigated the mechanism of cell death by 5-FC/CD-UPRT suicide system in both cancer and non-cancer cells and found that the optimum 5-FC concentration led to programmed cell death in vitro. The CD-UPRT expression of transfected cells was measured by the RT-PCR analysis. Biochemical assays, such as mitochondrial activity (MTS) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) measurements exhibited cell death. Microscopic experiments showed characteristic onset of apoptosis which was further supported by internucleosomal DNA cleavage of BrdU labeled cellular DNA, appearance of characteristic laddering of chromosomal DNA and involvement of caspase pathway. Furthermore, the 5-FC/CD-UPRT-mediated apoptosis was potentiated with addition of a known anticancer agent curcumin. Our in vitro studies confirmed synergistic induction of apoptotic pathway in the combination treatment. Therefore, combination of 5-FC/CD-UPRT with curcumin could be a potential chemosensitization strategy for cancer treatment.


Suicide gene therapy Apoptosis CD-UPRT 5-FC Curcumin 



This research work was supported by the Department of Biotechnology [BT/PR9988/NNT/28/76/2007], Council of Scientific and Industrial Research [No.37 (1248)/06/EMR-II] Government of India. Assistance from Central instruments facility (CIF) IIT Guwahati, for confocal and SEM analysis is gratefully acknowledged. We are also thankful to Dr. Mitali Chatterjee (Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research, Kolkata, India) for her help and suggestions.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiotechnologyIndian Institute of Technology GuwahatiGuwahatiIndia
  2. 2.Centre for NanotechnologyIndian Institute of Technology GuwahatiGuwahatiIndia

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