Cancer letters

Cellular response to etoposide treatment.

PMID 17166655


Etoposide is a potent anti-tumor drug that belongs to the class of topoisomerase poisons. Although its molecular target, i.e. DNA topoisomerase II, has been identified more than 20 years ago, the cellular response to etoposide is still poorly understood. The cytotoxicity of the drug stems from its ability to stabilize a covalent complex between DNA topoisomerase II and DNA that results in a high level of DNA damage. Here, we review the present knowledge about the strategy used by the cells to deal with the etoposide-induced DNA damage. New and unanticipated effects of topoisomerase II poisoning on cell metabolism are recently emerging, among which the ability to activate cell cycle checkpoint pathways and to affect gene expression at different levels, including chromatin remodeling and alternative splicing of gene transcripts. The elucidation of the effects of etoposide on cell metabolism will increase our ability to exploit this drug in cancer therapy and will expand our comprehension of the cancerous cell.