Cancer research

Antifolates targeting purine synthesis allow entry of tumor cells into S phase regardless of p53 function.

PMID 12234990


The class of folate antimetabolites typified by (6R)-dideazatetrahydrofolate (lometrexol, DDATHF) are specific inhibitors of de novo purine synthesis because of potent inhibition of glycinamide ribonucleotide formyltransferase (GART) but do not induce detectable levels of DNA strand breaks. As such, they are a test case of the concept that ribonucleotide depletion can be sensed by p53, resulting in a G(1) cell cycle block. The GART inhibitors have been proposed previously to be cytotoxic in tumor cells lacking p53 function but only cytostatic in p53 wild-type tumor cells. We have investigated this concept. Cell cycle progression into and through S phase was slowed by DDATHF, but both p53 +/+ and -/- human colon carcinoma cells entered and completed one S phase in the presence of drug. This inability of p53 to initiate a G(1) arrest after DDATHF treatment was mirrored by an independence of the cytotoxicity of DDATHF on p53 function. We conclude that carcinoma cells are killed equally well by DDATHF and related compounds whether or not the p53 pathway is intact and that the utility of GART inhibitors would not be limited to p53-negative tumors.

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Lometrexol hydrate, ≥95% (HPLC)
C21H25N5O6 · xH2O