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Leuk Lymphoma. 1994 Sep;15(1-2):21-32.

Apoptosis induced by DNA topoisomerase I and II inhibitors in human leukemic HL-60 cells.

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Laboratory of Oncohematology, University of Medicine, Dijon, France.


The induction of apoptosis following topoisomerase inhibitors proceeds in at least three distinct steps: (1) induction of cleavable complexes (potentially lethal damage), (2) topoisomerase-induced DNA damage, and (3) a presently unknown sequence of events that must either lead to cell cycle arrest (G2-block, differentiation) or apoptosis. DNA degradation provides a convenient way to quantify apoptosis in HL-60 cells. Extensive apoptosis can be induced rapidly in undifferentiated HL-60 cells without prevention by cycloheximide or actinomycin D. Therefore, HL-60 cells appear to express constitutively the apoptotic machinery that may be kept under control of a yet unknown repressor. The absence of the tumor suppressor p53 and the presence of bcl-2 are in contrast with the sensitivity of these cells to apoptosis. Agents that modify chromatin structure (zinc, poly[ADPribose] inhibitors, spermine) can block DNA fragmentation without affecting cell survival. By contrast macrophage-like differentiation by phorbol esters suppresses apoptosis without affecting topoisomerase-induced DNA damage. Better understanding of the apoptotic regulation in the widely used and characterized HL-60 cell line should allow the identification of new mechanisms and parameters of cellular sensitivity and resistance to the cytotoxic activity of anticancer agents.

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