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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1992 Dec;36(12):2589-94.

Induction of topoisomerase II-mediated DNA cleavage by the plant naphthoquinones plumbagin and shikonin.

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Kyowa Hakko Kogyo Co. Ltd., Tokyo Research Laboratories, Japan.


Plumbagin and shikonin, plant metabolites which have naphthoquinone structures, induced mammalian topoisomerase II-mediated DNA cleavage in vitro. Treatment of a reaction mixture containing these naphthoquinones and topoisomerase II at an elevated temperature (65 degrees C) resulted in a great reduction in DNA cleavage, suggesting that the mechanism of the topoisomerase II-mediated DNA cleavage induced by these naphthoquinones is through formation of a cleavable complex, as seen with antitumor agents such as 4'-(9-acridinylamino)methanesulfon-m-anisidide and demethylepipodophyllotoxin ethylidene-beta-glucoside. Lawson and lapacol, which are structurally related plant metabolites with naphthoquinone moieties, could not induce topoisomerase II-mediated DNA cleavage. Plumbagin and shikonin induced a similar DNA cleavage pattern with topoisomerase II which was different from the cleavage patterns induced with other known topoisomerase II-active drugs. A DNA-unwinding assay with T4 DNA ligase showed that shikonin, lawson, and lapacol did not intercalate into DNA, while plumbagin and 2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone intercalate into DNA, but to a lower degree than 4'-(9-acridinylamino)methanesulfon-m-anisidide does.

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