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Oncogene. 1999 Oct 14;18(42):5765-72.

RNA synthesis block by 5, 6-dichloro-1-beta-D-ribofuranosylbenzimidazole (DRB) triggers p53-dependent apoptosis in human colon carcinoma cells.

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  • 1Barry Reed Oncology Laboratory, ICRF Department of Medical Oncology, St Bartholomew's Hospital, West Smithfield, London EC1A 7BE, UK.


Most modern chemo- and radiotherapy treatments of human cancers use the DNA damage pathway, which induces a p53 response leading to either G1 arrest or apoptosis. However, such treatments can induce mutations and translocations leading to secondary malignancies or recurrent disease, which often have a poor prognosis because of resistance to therapy. Here we report that 5, 6-dichloro-1-beta-D-ribofuranosylbenzimidazole (DRB), an inhibitor of CDK7 TFIIH-associated kinase, CKI and CKII kinases, blocking RNA polymerase II in the early elongation stage, triggers p53-dependent apoptosis in human colon adenocarcinoma cells in a transcription independent manner. The fact that DRB kills tumour-derived cells without employment of DNA damage gives rise to the possibility of the development of a new alternative chemotherapeutic treatment of tumours expressing wild type p53, with a decreased risk of therapy-related, secondary malignancies.

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