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Br J Cancer. 2003 Apr 22;88(8):1310-7.

Tracking the cell cycle origins for escape from topotecan action by breast cancer cells.

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  • 1Department of Pathalogy, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff, UK.


The anticancer agent topotecan is considered to be S-phase specific. This implies that cancer cells that are not actively replicating DNA could resist the effects of the drug. The cycle specificity of topotecan action was investigated in MCF-7 cells, using time-lapse microscopy to link the initial cell cycle position during acute exposures to topotecan with the antiproliferative consequences for individual cells. The bioactive dose range (0.5-10 microM) for 1-h topotecan exposures was defined by rapid drug delivery and topoisomerase I trapping. Topotecan caused pan-cycle induction and activation of p53. Lineage analysis of the time-lapse sequences identified cells initially in S-phase and G2, and defined the time to mitosis for cells originating from G2, S-phase and G1. Topotecan prevented all mitoses from S-phase cells and G1 cells (half-maximal effects at 0.14 microM and 0.96 microM, respectively). No dose of topotecan completely prevented mitosis among G2 cells, and at saturating doses of topotecan about half the cells of G2 origin continued dividing (the half-maximal effects was at 0.31 microM). Overall, topotecan differentially targeted G1-, S- and G2-phase cells, but many G2 cells were resistant to topotecan, presenting a clear route for cell cycle-mediated drug resistance.

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