Gemcitabine metabolites cause the termination of DNA replication and induction of apoptosis. We determined whether subtherapeutic "microdoses" of gemcitabine are incorporated into DNA at levels that correlate to drug cytotoxicity. A pair of nearly isogenic bladder cancer cell lines differing in resistance to several chemotherapy drugs were treated with various concentrations of 14C-labeled gemcitabine for 4-24 h. Drug incorporation into DNA was determined by accelerator mass spectrometry. A mechanistic analysis determined that RRM2, a DNA synthesis protein and a known resistance factor, substantially mediated gemcitabine toxicity. These results support gemcitabine levels in DNA as a potential biomarker of drug cytotoxicity.
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