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Toxins (Basel). 2013 Feb 21;5(2):431-44. doi: 10.3390/toxins5020431.

Shiga toxin 1, as DNA repair inhibitor, synergistically potentiates the activity of the anticancer drug, mafosfamide, on raji cells.

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Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine, University of Bologna, Via San Giacomo 14, Bologna, Italy.


Shiga toxin 1 (Stx1), produced by pathogenic Escherichia coli, targets a restricted subset of human cells, which possess the receptor globotriaosylceramide (Gb3Cer/CD77), causing hemolytic uremic syndrome. In spite of the high toxicity, Stx1 has been proposed in the treatment of Gb3Cer/CD77-expressing lymphoma. Here, we demonstrate in a Burkitt lymphoma cell model expressing this receptor, namely Raji cells, that Stx1, at quasi-non-toxic concentrations (0.05-0.1 pM), inhibits the repair of mafosfamide-induced DNA alkylating lesions, synergistically potentiating the cytotoxic activity of the anticancer drug. Conversely, human promyelocytic leukemia cells HL-60, which do not express Gb3Cer/CD77, were spared by the toxin as previously demonstrated for CD34+ human progenitor cells, and hence, in this cancer model, no additive nor synergistic effects were observed with the combined Stx1/mafosfamide treatment. Our findings suggest that Stx1 could be used to improve the mafosfamide-mediated purging of Gb3Cer/CD77+ tumor cells before autologous bone marrow transplantation.

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