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

Multi-enzyme-targeted chemotherapy by acivicin and actinomycin.

On the basis of our observation of the increased specific activities of glutamine-utilizing enzymes in purine and pyrimidine metabolism in hepatoma 3924A, and because the concentration of glutamine is ten times lower in the hepatomas than in the liver, the biochemical pharmacology of the anti-glutamine agent, acivicin, was examined. (1) Acivicin competitively inhibited the activities of amidophosphoribosyl-transferase, CTP synthetase and carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase II from extracts of liver and hepatoma 3924A. (2) In addition to the competitive inhibition exerted by acivicin, evidence was obtained that this drug also irreversibly inactivated in vitro the glutamine-utilizing enzymes. It is particularly relevant for the selectivity of acivicin that the activity of aspartate carbamoyltransferase, an enzyme present in the same complex as carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase II, was not affected by the anti-glutamine agent. (3) Acivicin in vivo brought down the activities of glutamine-utilizing enzymes in a period of 10 min to 1 hr after injection. CTP synthetase activity declined to less than 10% of that observed in the uninjected rats. The decreases were not reversible by various in vitro methods, but in vivo the activities returned to normal range in 72 hr. (4) The activity of aspartate carbamoyltransferase, which exists as a multi-enzyme complex with synthetase II, was not altered by acivicin injection. Similar results were observed in transplantable sarcoma in the rat. (5) The acivicin-induced decrease in enzymic activities could not be restored by purification of the enzymes. (6) In vitro studies indicated that addition of acivicin to liver or hepatoma extracts or purified enzymes rapidly decreased enzymic activities; the activities could not be restored. These results are consistent with an interpretation that acivicin acts either as a tight-binding inhibitor or as an inactivator through alkylation of the enzymes of glutamine utilization. (7) Acivicin in combination with actinomycin provided a synergistic kill of hepatoma cells in tissue culture and also inhibited the growth of transplantable solid hepatoma 3924A in the rat. (8) The synergistic biological results of combination chemotherapy with acivicin and actinomycin can be accounted for by the action of acivicin in inhibiting GMP and CTP synthetases, resulting in a decrease in GTP and CTP content, and by the actinomycin-caused inhibition of RNA polymerase in selectively blocking the utilization of GTP and CTP.[1]


  1. Multi-enzyme-targeted chemotherapy by acivicin and actinomycin. Weber, G., Prajda, N., Lui, M.S., Denton, J.E., Aoki, T., Sebolt, J., Zhen, Y.S., Burt, M.E., Faderan, M.A., Reardon, M.A. Adv. Enzyme Regul. (1982) [Pubmed]
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