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

On the biochemical modulation of 6-mercaptopurine by methotrexate in murine WEHI-3b leukemia cells in vitro.

The chemicals 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP) and methotrexate (MTX) are the cornerstones in the maintenance treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The intracellular metabolism of 6-MP to 6-thioguanosine nucleotides (TGN) via 6-thioinosine 5'-monophosphate (TIMP) is crucial for its cytotoxic effect. MTX inhibits purine de novo synthesis and thereby increases the intracellular PRPP being a substrate for the phosphoribosylation of 6-MP to TIMP. Hypoxanthine has been shown to inhibit the uptake of 6-MP over the cell membrane and the phosphoribosylation of 6-MP to TIMP. We have previously shown that the conversion of TIMP to TGN decreases at 6-MP concentrations above 5 microM in vitro. The aim of the present study was therefore to investigate the effect of MTX increasing the PRPP and TIMP concentrations and of hypoxanthine decreasing the TIMP concentration on the formation of TGN from TIMP. Murine myelomonocytic leukemia cells (WEHI-3b) were treated with 6-MP in vitro. The drug concentration was kept constant by continuous addition of 6-MP during the experiment. With this technique, the concentration of TGN begins to decrease already at 6-MP concentrations above 2 microM. The addition of 0.2 microM MTX 6 h before 6-MP strongly inhibited the purine de novo synthesis, decreased the ATP, and increased the PRPP concentration 4-fold. The intracellular concentrations of TIMP and to a lesser extent TXMP also increased. The concentrations of the TGN were, however, basically unaffected by the preincubation with MTX. Simultaneous addition of 20-50 microM hypoxanthine and 6-MP decreased the accumulation of all cellular 6-MP metabolites. It is concluded that the synergistic cytotoxic effect of the combination of 6-MP and MTX is not based on biochemical modulation of the 6-MP metabolism by MTX.[1]


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