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J Biol Chem. 1996 Jan 26;271(4):2262-70.

Selected novel flavones inhibit the DNA binding or the DNA religation step of eukaryotic topoisomerase I.

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Medizinische Poliklinik, University of Würzburg, Federal Republic of Germany.


Topoisomerases are involved in many aspects of DNA metabolism such as replication and transcription reactions. Camptothecins, which stabilize the covalent intermediate of topoisomerase I and DNA are effective, though toxic, drugs for cancer therapy. In this study, a new class of topoisomerase I inhibitors was identified, and their mode of action was characterized using recombinant human topoisomerase I preparations and human HL-60 leukemic cells. Quercetin and the related natural flavones, acacetin, apigenin, kaempferol, and morin, inhibit topoisomerase I-catalyzed DNA religation. In contrast to camptothecin, these compounds do not act directly on the catalytic intermediate and also do not interfere with DNA cleavage. However, formation of a ternary complex with topoisomerase I and DNA during the cleavage reaction inhibits the following DNA religation step. 3,3',4',7-Tetrahydroxy-substituted flavones stabilize the covalent topoisomerase I-DNA intermediate most efficiently. Enhanced formation of covalent topoisomerase I-DNA complexes was also demonstrated in human HL-60 cells. In contrast, synthetic 3,5'-dibromo- 4'-hydroxy-3-methylflavones bind selectively to topoisomerase I in its non-DNA-bound form and block the following DNA binding step. As a consequence, these synthetic flavonoids are capable of counteracting topoisomerase I-directed effects of camptothecin. Inhibition of DNA binding is obtained by voluminous hydrophobic substituents in 6-position of the flavone structure. Our data show that selective inhibitors of both half-reactions of topoisomerase I can be derived from the flavone structure.

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