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Exp Cell Res. 1991 Aug;195(2):485-91.

The concentration-dependent diversity of effects of DNA topoisomerase I and II inhibitors on the cell cycle of HL-60 cells.

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Cancer Research Institute, New York Medical College, Elmsford 10523.


Exposure of promyelocytic leukemic HL-60 cells to 3-60 nM of the DNA topoisomerase I inhibitor camptothecin (CAM) or to 30-450 nM and 0.12-1.5 microM of DNA topoisomerase II inhibitors teniposide (TN) and 4-(9-acridynylamino)-3-methanesulfon-m-anisidide (m-AMSA), respectively, resulted in two distinct kinetic effects: (1) the cells entered S phase but the rate of DNA replication was reduced in proportion to the inhibitor concentration; (2) the transition from G2 to M was impaired, approximately 1 h after addition of the inhibitor. As a consequence, the cells accumulated in the S (preferentially in early S) and in G2 phases of the cell cycle. Whereas CAM was more efficient in suppressing cell progression through S phase, TN and m-AMSA were more potent G2 blockers. At these low inhibitor concentrations no signs of immediate cytotoxicity or DNA degradation were apparent. However, above 145 nM of CAM, 900 nM of TN, or 2 microM of m-AMSA extensive DNA degradation in nuclei of S phase cells was evident within 6 h of addition of the inhibitor, resulting in the loss of S and G2 + M cells from these cultures. The data indicate that depending on concentration, mechanisms mediating the cytostatic/cytotoxic activity of both DNA topoisomerase I and II inhibitors may be quite different. Suppression of the DNA replication and the G2 to M transition, seen at low inhibitor concentrations, is compatible with the assumption that the inhibitor-induced stabilization of the topoisomerase-DNA cleavable complexes interferes with DNA replication and chromosome condensation/segregation, respectively. Above the threshold concentration for each inhibitor, an endonucleolytic activity is triggered, resulting in rapid DNA degradation in nuclei of S and G2 phase cells. The endonucleolytic effect is not only cell cycle phase-specific but is also modulated by tissue-specific factors because it cannot be observed, e.g., in the lymphocytic leukemic cell lines.

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