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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2007 Jun;321(3):848-55. Epub 2007 Mar 9.

Chlorambucil cytotoxicity in malignant B lymphocytes is synergistically increased by 2-(morpholin-4-yl)-benzo[h]chomen-4-one (NU7026)-mediated inhibition of DNA double-strand break repair via inhibition of DNA-dependent protein kinase.

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Montreal Centre for Experimental Therapeutics in Cancer-Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Sir Mortimer B Davis-Jewish General Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Chlorambucil (CLB) treatment is used in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) but resistance to CLB develops in association with accelerated repair of CLB-induced DNA damage. Phosphorylated histone H2AX (gammaH2AX) is located at DNA double-strand break (DSB) sites; furthermore, it recruits and retains damage-responsive proteins. This damage can be repaired by nonhomologous DNA end-joining (NHEJ) and/or homologous recombinational repair (HR) pathways. A key component of NHEJ is the DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) complex. Increased DNA-PK activity is associated with resistance to CLB in CLL. We used the specific DNA-PK inhibitor 2-(morpholin-4-yl)-benzo[h]chomen-4-one (NU7026) to sensitize CLL cells to chlorambucil. Our results indicate that in a CLL cell line (I83) and in primary CLL-lymphocytes, chlorambucil plus NU7026 has synergistic cytotoxic activity at nontoxic doses of NU7026. CLB treatment results in G(2)/M phase arrest, and NU7026 increases this CLB-induced G(2)/M arrest. Moreover, a kinetic time course demonstrates that CLB-induced DNA-PK activity was inhibited by NU7026, providing direct evidence of the ability of NU7026 to inhibit DNA-PK function. DSBs, visualized as gammaH2AX, were enhanced 24 to 48 h after CLB and further increased by CLB plus NU7026, suggesting that the synergy of the combination is mediated by NU7026 inhibition of DNA-PK with subsequent inhibition of DSB repair.

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