Differential single- versus double-strand DNA breakage produced by doxorubicin and its morpholinyl analogues

George E. Duran, Derick H Lau, Alexander D. Lewis, Jörn S. Kühl, Theodor K. Bämmler, Branimir I. Sikic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The morpholinyl analogues of doxorubicin (DOX) have previously been reported to be non-cross-resistant in multidrug resistant (MDR) cells due to a lower affinity for P-glycoprotein relative to the parent compound. In order to further investigate the mechanisms of action of these morpholinyl anthracyclines, we examined their ability to cause DNA single- and double-strand breaks (SSB, DSB) and their interactions with topoisomerases. Alkaline elution curves were determined after 2-h drug treatment at 0.5, 2 and 5 μM, while neutral elution was conducted at 5, 10 and 25 μM in a human ovarian cell line, ES-2. A pulse-field gel electrophoresis assay was used to confirm the neutral elution data under the same conditions. Further, K-SDS precipitation and topoisomerase drug inhibition assays were used to determine the effects of DOX and the morpholinyl analogues on topoisomerase (Topo) I and II. Under deproteinated elution conditions (pH 12.1), DOX, morpholinyl DOX (MRA), methoxymorpholinyl DOX (MMDX) and morpholinyl oxaunomycin (MX2) were equipotent at causing SSB in the human ovarian carcinoma cell line, ES-2. However, neutral elution (pH 9.6) under deproteinated conditions revealed marked differences in the degree of DNA DSB. After 2-h drug exposures at 10 μM, DSBs were 3300 rad equivalents for MX2, 1500 for DOX and 400 for both MRA and MMDX in the ES-2 cell line. Pulse-field data substantiated these differences in DSBs, with breaks easily detected after MX2 and DOX treatment, but not with MRA and MMDX. DOX and MX2 thus cause DNA strand breaks selectively through interaction with Topo II, but not Topo I. In contrast, MRA and MMDX cause DNA breaks through interactions with both topoisomerases with a predominant inhibition of Topo I.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-216
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Anthracyclines
  • DNA strand breakage
  • Morpholinyl doxorubicin
  • MX2
  • Topoisomerases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Pharmacology
  • Oncology
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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