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Biochem Pharmacol. 2008 Oct 15;76(8):987-96. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2008.08.010. Epub 2008 Aug 19.

DNA damage and homologous recombination signaling induced by thymidylate deprivation.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences, South Carolina College of Pharmacy, University of South Carolina, 715 Sumter Street, Columbia, SC 29208, USA.


DNA damage is accepted as a consequence of thymidylate deprivation induced by chemotherapeutic inhibitors of thymidylate synthase (TS), but the types of damage and signaling responses remain incompletely understood. Thymidylate deprivation increases dUTP and uracil in DNA, which is removed by base excision repair (BER). Because BER requires a synthesis step, strand break intermediates presumably accumulate. Thymidylate deprivation also induces cell cycle arrest during replication. Homologous recombination (HR) is a means of repairing persistent BER intermediates and collapsed replication forks. There are also intimate links between HR and S-phase checkpoint pathways. In this study, the goals were to determine the involvement of HR-associated proteins and DNA damage signaling responses to thymidylate deprivation. When RAD51, which is a central component of HR, was depleted by siRNA cells were sensitized to raltitrexed (RTX), which specifically inhibits TS. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration in mammalian cells that depletion of RAD51 causes sensitivity to thymidylate deprivation. Activation of DNA damage signaling responses was examined following treatment with RTX. Phosphorylation of replication protein A (RPA2 subunit) and formation of damage-induced foci were strikingly evident following IC(50) doses of RTX. Induction was much more striking following RTX treatment than with hydroxyurea, which is commonly used to inhibit replication. RTX treatment also induced foci of RAD51, gamma-H2AX, phospho-Chk1, and phospho-NBS1, although the extent of co-localization with RPA2 foci varied. Collectively, the results suggest that HR and S-phase checkpoint signaling processes are invoked by thymidylate deprivation and influence cellular resistance to thymidylate deprivation.

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