Cytotoxic effects of a new targeted phototoxin DARPin-miniSOG and mechanism of its action were investigated in vitro. It was determined that DARPin-miniSOG causes light-induced death of HER2/neu-positive cancer cells (IC50 0.8 μM). Treatment of the cells with DARPin-miniSOG in the presence of ascorbic acid eliminated the light-induced cytotoxic action of the protein. This observation suggests the involvement of oxidative stress in the mechanism of the phototoxin action. DNA fragmentation analysis, caspase-3 activity assay and PI-staining of HER2/neu-positive cancer cells treated with DARPin-miniSOG indicated that phototoxin induces necrotic cell death under blue light illumination. Co-localization analysis showed that DARPin-miniSOG accumulates mostly in endosomes and lysosomes.
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