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J Biol Chem. 2003 Aug 8;278(32):29532-7. Epub 2003 May 24.

DNA damage-mediated apoptosis induced by selenium compounds.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA.


Selenium (Se) compounds, which are the most extensively studied cancer chemopreventive agents, induce apoptotic death of tumor cells. In the current study, we show that selenite-induced apoptosis involves DNA damage. We showed that selenite-induced apoptosis as evidenced by cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase was reduced in NIH 3T3 cells treated with ATM small interfering RNA, suggesting the involvement of the DNA damage regulator ATM. Consistent with ATM/ATR involvement, selenite was also shown to stimulate Ser-139 phosphorylation of the ATM/ATR substrate H2AX. Selenite-induced apoptosis was shown to involve DNA topoisomerase II (Top II) as selenite-induced apoptosis was reduced in Top II-deficient HL-60/MX2 cells and in HL-60 cells co-treated with the Top II catalytic inhibitor ICRF-193. Using purified human recombinant Top II, selenite was shown to induce reversible Top II cleavage complexes in vitro. In the aggregate, these results suggest that selenite-induced apoptosis, which involves ATM/ATR and Top II, is likely to be because of DNA damage.

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