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Biochem Pharmacol. 2012 Jul 1;84(1):43-51. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2012.03.022. Epub 2012 Apr 2.

Phosphorylation of deoxycytidine kinase on Ser-74: impact on kinetic properties and nucleoside analog activation in cancer cells.

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Laboratory of Physiological Chemistry, de Duve Institute & Université catholique de Louvain, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium.


Deoxycytidine kinase (dCK) (EC is a key enzyme in the activation of several therapeutic nucleoside analogs (NA). Its activity can be increased in vivo by Ser-74 phosphorylation, a property that could be used for enhancing NA activation and clinical efficacy. In line with this, studies with recombinant dCK showed that mimicking Ser-74 phosphorylation by a S74E mutation increases its activity toward pyrimidine analogs. However, purine analogs had not been investigated. Here, we show that the S74E mutation increased the k(cat) for cladribine (CdA) by 8- or 3-fold, depending on whether the phosphoryl donor was ATP or UTP, for clofarabine (CAFdA) by about 2-fold with both ATP and UTP, and for fludarabine (F-Ara-A) by 2-fold, but only with UTP. However, the catalytic efficiencies (k(cat)/Km) were not, or slightly, increased. The S74E mutation also sensitized dCK to feed-back inhibition by dCTP, regardless of the phosphoryl donor. Importantly, we did not observe an increase of endogenous dCK activity toward purine analogs after in vivo-induced increase of Ser-74 phosphorylation. Accordingly, treatment of CLL cells with aphidicolin, which enhances dCK activity through Ser-74 phosphorylation, did not modify the conversion of CdA or F-Ara-A into their active triphosphate form. Nevertheless, the same treatment enhanced activation of gemcitabine (dFdC) into dFdCTP in CLL as well as in HCT-116 cells and produced synergistic cytotoxicity. We conclude that increasing phosphorylation of dCK on Ser-74 might constitute a valuable strategy to enhance the clinical efficacy of some NA, like dFdC, but not of CdA or F-Ara-A.

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