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J Biol Chem. 1984 Nov 10;259(21):13560-6.

Nonintercalative antitumor drugs interfere with the breakage-reunion reaction of mammalian DNA topoisomerase II.


Many intercalative antitumor drugs have been shown to cleave DNA indirectly through their specific effect on the stabilization of a cleavable complex formed between mammalian DNA topoisomerase II and DNA (Nelson, E.M., Tewey, K.M., and Liu, L.F. (1984) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 81, 1361-1365). Antitumor epipodophyllotoxins (VP-16 and VM-26) which do not intercalate DNA can similarly induce protein-linked DNA breaks in cultured mammalian cells. In vitro studies using purified mammalian DNA topoisomerase II show that epipodophyllotoxins interfere with the breakage-reunion reaction of mammalian DNA topoisomerase II by stabilizing a cleavable complex. Treatment of this stabilized cleavable complex with protein denaturants results in DNA strand breaks and the covalent linking of a topoisomerase subunit to the 5'-end of the broken DNA. Furthermore, epipodophyllotoxins also inhibit the strand-passing activity of mammalian DNA topoisomerase II, presumably as a result of drug-enzyme interaction. The agreement between the in vivo and in vitro studies suggests that mammalian DNA topoisomerase II is a drug target in vivo. The similarity between the effect of epipodophyllotoxins on mammalian DNA topoisomerase II and the effect of nalidixic acid on Escherichia coli DNA gyrase suggests that the cytotoxic action of epipodophyllotoxins may be analogous to the bactericidal action of nalidixic acid.

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