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Cancer Res. 2004 Sep 1;64(17):6280-6.

Evaluation of human thymidine kinase 1 substrates as new candidates for boron neutron capture therapy.

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Department of Molecular Biosciences, Division of Veterinary Medical Biochemistry, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Biomedical Center, Uppsala, Sweden.


Thymidine analogs containing o-carboranylalkyl groups at the 3-position were screened as potential substrates for human thymidine kinase 1 (TK1), an enzyme that is selectively expressed in a variety of rapidly proliferating cells, including tumor cells. On the basis of previous studies, 12 of these were identified as potential delivery agents for boron neutron capture therapy, a therapeutic method used for the treatment of high-grade brain tumors. Compound 4 with a pentylene spacer between the o-carborane cage and the thymidine scaffold and compound 10, which has an additional dihydroxypropyl substituent at the o-carborane cage, were the best substrates for TK1 with kcat/Km values of 27% and 36% relative to that of thymidine, respectively. These compounds showed partial competitive inhibition for thymidine phosphorylation by TK1. Neither compound was a substrate of recombinant human thymidine phosphorylase nor were their respective 5'-monophosphates substrates of 5'-deoxynucleotidase 1, thereby indicating potential in vivo stability. The octanol/water partition coefficient for compound 10 was 2.09, suggesting that it has excellent physiochemical properties for crossing the blood brain barrier and penetrating brain tissue. The in vitro cytotoxic effect of the 12 analogs was moderate to low in mammalian cell cultures with IC50 values between 10 and 160 micromol/L. Compounds 4 and 10 were taken up selectively and retained by the murine fibroblast L929 cell line, in contrast to its TK1-deficient variant. These findings suggest that compound 10 is a promising candidate for selective delivery of boron-10 to malignant cells, and additional in vivo studies are planned to evaluate it for boron neutron capture therapy of brain tumors.

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