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Anticancer Res. 2004 Jul-Aug;24(4):2127-34.

Inhibition of the human apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease (APE1) repair activity and sensitization of breast cancer cells to DNA alkylating agents with lucanthone.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Herman B. Wells Center for Pediatric Research, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202, USA.


Cells repair DNA damage via four main mechanisms, however, damage induced by alkylators and oxidative damage is predominantly repaired by the DNA base excision repair (BER) pathway. The AP endonuclease, APE1, is one of the main enzymes in the BER pathway. It is abundant in human cells and accounts for nearly all of the abasic site cleavage activity observed in cellular extracts. APE1 expression is elevated in a variety of cancers and a high APE1 expression has been associated with poor outcome to chemoradiotherapy. The small molecule lucanthone has been shown to enhance the killing ability of ionizing radiation in cells and preliminary evidence suggests that lucanthone may inhibit AP endonuclease. Given the role APE1 plays in repairing oxidative and ionizing radiation DNA damage, the reports of lucanthone as an ionizing radiation enhancer and the potential use of lucanthone as an AP endonuclease inhibitor, we examined whether lucanthone could inhibit APE1 endonuclease activity. We report that lucanthone inhibits the repair activity of APE1, but not its redox function or exonuclease activity on mismatched nucleotides. Lucanthone also appears to inhibit exonuclease III family members (APE1 and ExoIII), but not endonuclease IV AP endonucleases, nor bifunctional glycosylase/lyases such as endonuclease VIII or formamidopyrimidine-DNA glycosylase (Fpg). Furthermore, the addition of lucanthone inhibits APE1 repair activity from cellular extracts and enhances the cell killing effect of the laboratory alkylating agent methyl methanesulfonate (MMS) and the clinically relevant agent temozolomide (TMZ). Given these initial findings, it would be of interest to further develop lucanthone as an APE1 inhibitor through the use of structure-function studies as a means of enhancing the sensitization of tumors to chemotherapeutic agents.

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