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Adv Enzyme Regul. 1985;24:385-401.

Drug action on ribonucleotide reductase.


Ribonucleotide reductase catalyzes the rate-limiting step in DNA synthesis. It represents a key metabolic site at which specific inhibitors have been directed as potential antitumor agents. Several different classes of ribonucleotide reductase inhibitors have been generated and studied. Because of the nature of the DNA polymerase reaction in which all four dNTPs are required, the initial velocity vs dNTP concentration curve gives sigmoidal rather than hyperbolic kinetics. As a result, a 50 per cent decrease in ribonucleotide reductase activity causes a decrease in DNA polymerase activity of 75 per cent or greater depending on the ratio of [dNTP] to its Km. This has been demonstrated with theoretical calculations, actual DNA polymerase determinations and precursor studies in intact tumor cells. The structural requirements for a compound to serve as a specific inhibitor of ribonucleotide reductase, either as the non-heme iron or effector-binding subunit, are stringent. Each protein subunit comprising the active enzyme can be specifically and independently inhibited. When combinations of agents, each directed at one of the subunits of ribonucleotide reductase, are used, strong synergistic inhibition of L1210 cell growth and synergistic cytotoxicity result.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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