Teniposide induces nuclear but not mitochondrial DNA degradation

Clifford G Tepper, George P. Studzinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Teniposide [4′-demethylepipophyllotoxin-4-(4,6-O-thenylidene-β-D- glucopyranoside) (VM-26)] is a cancer chemotherapeutic drug with a high target specificity for DNA topoisomerase II. This agent induces repairable protein-bridged double-strand DNA breaks, which have been correlated with cytotoxicity, but high concentrations of VM-26 also induce irreversible DNA degradation and apoptotic cell death. It is not known whether this degradation occurs uniformly throughout the genome or in a gene-specific manner. To answer this question, DNA was isolated from HL-60 promyelocytic leukemia cells exposed to 5 μM VM-26 for varying periods of up to 12 h. Nucleosomal "ladders" on 2.0% agarose gels stained with ethidium bromide were detectable after 3 h of exposure, indicative of apoptosis. Gene-specific DNA degradation was investigated by Southern blot analysis. The genes for 18S rRNA and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase were representatives of constitutively expressed (i.e., "housekeeping") genes. The proto-oncogenes c-myc, c-Ha-ras, and bcl-2 were examined as examples of other transcriptionally active genes, while transcriptionally inactive genes in HL-60 cells were studied by probing for the immunoglobulin heavy chain joining region and λ light chain constant region genes. The rates of DNA degradation, and its extent after 12 h, were similar for all nuclear genes studied. However, there was striking resistance of mitochondrial DNA to endonucleolytic degradation. These data demonstrate that VM-26 can elicit a widespread degradative process which affects nuclear but not mitochondrial DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3384-3390
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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