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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

A mechanism behind the antitumour effect of 6-diazo-5-oxo-L-norleucine (DON): disruption of mitochondria.

6-diazo-5-oxo-L-norleucine (DON) exerts a growth inhibitory effect selectively on the neuroendocrine tumour cell line BON and is proposed as an antitumour drug. The mechanism behind this has not yet been clarified. In the present study, transmission electron microscopy was used for the assessment of changes in cellular organelles. Furthermore, the methylthiazolyldiphenyl tetrazolium (MTT) assay for mitochondrial enzymatic activity, a fluorescent marker (rhodamine 123) for mitochondrial integrity and [2-(11)C]-acetyl-carnitine which is a substrate of the tricarboxylic acid cycle of mitochondria were employed. The studies were performed in parallel in BON and in a neuroblastoma cell line LAN, with the cells grown as monolayers or as multicellular aggregates. Severe morphological changes of intracellular organelles were observed in BON aggregates treated with low-doses of DON. Especially striking was the disruption of mitochondrial internal membrane structures. Other features included the swelling of endoplasmic reticulum, autophagocytosis of secretory granules and nuclear condensation (apoptosis). In LAN cells, no ultrastructural changes were seen after DON treatment. The MTT assay indicated inhibition of mitochondrial enzymatic activity in BON cells but not in LAN cells after 5 h treatment with DON. The mitochondrial damage was also demonstrated as a reduced metabolism of [2-(11)C]-acetyl-carnitine. The observations revealed mitochondrial damage by DON treatment and suggest that the mitochondria might be a primary target for the antitumour effect in neuroendocrine cells.[1]


  1. A mechanism behind the antitumour effect of 6-diazo-5-oxo-L-norleucine (DON): disruption of mitochondria. Wu, F., Lukinius, A., Bergström, M., Eriksson, B., Watanabe, Y., Långström, B. Eur. J. Cancer (1999) [Pubmed]
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