Recombinant human DFF45 inhibits apoptosis-specific endonuclease in a cell-free system of Xenopus egg extracts

Wei Yang, Zhi Gang Lu, Lan Zhang, Zhong He Zhai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The human DNA fragmentation factor (DFF) is a heterodimer of 40 kD and 45 kD subunits. The 40 kD subunit (DFF40) has an intrinsic DNase activity responsible for the genomic DNA degradation into nucleosomal fragments during apoptosis. As an inhibitor for DFF40, the 45 kD subunit (DFF45) complexes with DFF40, inhibiting DNase activity until certain apoptosis signals are received. In cells undergoing apoptosis, the cleavage of DFF45 by activated caspase-3 frees DFF40 from the complex and initiates the apoptosis-specific DNA fragmentation. In this report, the coding region of human DFF45 gene was amplified from the total RNA of HeLa cells by RT-PCR. The resulting 1 kb DNA fragment was cloned into the bacterial expression vector pET28a(+) with a 6 × histidine tag fused to the N-terminus of DFF45, generating plasmid pET28a-DFF45, which was then used to transform E. coli BL21(DE3). Induced by IPTG, the recombinant DFF45 was expressed efficiently with a yield of 56.6% of total bacterial proteins. The product was purified to homogeneity through a nickel affinity column, followed by heat treatment, and approximately 4-6 mg of DFF was purified from 100 ml culture. Purified recombinant human DFF45, added into the apoptotic cell-free system of Xenopus egg extracts, could effectively inhibit both the digestion of λDNA and the degradation of chromosomal DNA into nucleosomal fragments in the nuclei of chicken red blood cells. Our results demonstrated the existence of an apoptosis-specific endonuclease in this cell-free system, the activity of which could be inhibited by recombinant human DFF45.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-86
Number of pages2
JournalActa Biochimica et Biophysica Sinica
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001


  • Apoptosis
  • Apoptosis-specific endonuclease
  • Cell-free system
  • Cytochrome c
  • DFF45

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry


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