The Journal of biological chemistry

The topoisomerase-related function gene TRF4 affects cellular sensitivity to the antitumor agent camptothecin.

PMID 10066793


Camptothecin is an antitumor agent that kills cells by converting DNA topoisomerase I into a DNA-damaging poison. Although camptothecin derivatives are now being used to treat tumors in a variety of clinical protocols, the cellular factors that influence sensitivity to the drug are only beginning to be understood. We report here that two genes required for sister chromatid cohesion, TRF4 and MCD1/SCC1, are also required to repair camptothecin-mediated damage to DNA. The hypersensitivity to camptothecin in the trf4 mutant does not result from elevated expression of DNA topoisomerase I. We show that Trf4 is a nuclear protein whose expression is cell cycle-regulated at a post-transcriptional level. Suppression of camptothecin hypersensitivity in the trf4 mutant by gene overexpression resulted in the isolation of three genes: another member of the TRF4 gene family, TRF5, and two genes that may influence higher order chromosome structure, ZDS1 and ZDS2. We have isolated and sequenced two human TRF4 family members, hTRF4-1 and hTRF4-2. The hTRF4-1 gene maps to chromosome 5p15, a region of frequent copy number alteration in several tumor types. The evolutionary conservation of TRF4 suggests that it may also influence mammalian cell sensitivity to camptothecin.