HER2/neu is an oncogene that facilitates neoplastic transformation due to its ability to transduce growth signals in a ligand-independent manner, is over-expressed in 20-30% of human breast cancers correlating with aggressive disease and has been successfully targeted with trastuzumab (Herceptin®). Because trastuzumab alone achieves only a 15-30% response rate, it is now commonly combined with conventional chemotherapeutic drugs. While the combination of trastuzumab plus chemotherapy has greatly improved response rates and increased survival, these conventional chemotherapy drugs are frequently associated with gastrointestinal and cardiac toxicity, bone marrow and immune suppression. These drawbacks necessitate the development of new, less toxic drugs that can be combined with trastuzumab. Recently, we reported that orally administered alpha-tocopheryloxyacetic acid (α-TEA), a novel ether derivative of alpha-tocopherol, dramatically suppressed primary tumor growth and reduced the incidence of lung metastases both in a transplanted and a spontaneous mouse model of breast cancer without discernable toxicity.
The human bcl-2 gene contains a GC-rich region upstream of the P1 promoter that has been shown to be critically involved in the regulation of bcl-2 gene expression. We have demonstrated that the guanine-rich strand of the DNA in this region can form any one of three distinct intramolecular G-quadruplex structures. Mutation and deletion analysis permitted isolation and identification of three overlapping DNA sequences within this element that formed the three individual G-quadruplexes. Each of these was characterized using nondenaturing gel analysis, DMS footprinting, and circular dichroism. The central G-quadruplex, which is the most stable, forms a mixed parallel/antiparallel structure consisting of three tetrads connected by loops of one, seven, and three bases. Three different G-quadruplex-interactive agents were found to further stabilize these structures, with individual selectivity toward one or more of these G-quadruplexes. Collectively, these results suggest that the multiple G-quadruplexes identified in the promoter region of the bcl-2 gene are likely to play a similar role to the G-quadruplexes in the c-myc promoter in that their formation could serve to modulate gene transcription. Last, we demonstrate that the complexity of the G-quadruplexes in the bcl-2 promoter extends beyond the ability to form any one of three separate G-quadruplexes to each having the capacity to form either three or six different loop isomers. These results are discussed in relation to the biological significance of this G-quadruplex-forming element in modulation of bcl-2 gene expression and the inherent complexity of the system where different G-quadruplexes and loop isomers are possible.
We have synthesized a series of polyintercalating compounds, including the first known tetraintercalator, based on the 1,4,5,8-naphthalenetetracarboxylic diimide chromophore. The chromophores are attached in a head-to-tail arrangement by peptide linkers and are synthesized by standard solid phase peptide synthesis methods. We report evidence, based on UV-visible spectroscopy and viscometry, that the compounds are fully intercalated upon binding to double-stranded DNA. Using DNAse I footprinting experiments, the bisintercalator 2 was found to bind to DNA in a cooperative manner. The footprinting results as well as association and dissociation kinetics data reveal that the compounds exhibit a tremendous preference for GC over AT sequences. A mode of binding is proposed in which the compounds intercalate completely from the major groove, and not in a threading manner as may be suggested by their structures. A kinetic scheme is proposed that takes into account the observed cooperativity and fits the data for the dissociations of the polyintercalators from poly(dAdT), although a similar scheme could not adequately model their dissociations from poly(dGdC) or from calf thymus DNA.
U-77779 is a symmetrical dimer of the spirocyclopropyl allkylating subunit of (+)-CC-1065 in which the linker consists of two indole subunits separated by a ureido group. This compound was synthesized by scientists of the Upjohn Company and was found to be more active in both anti-tumor efficacy and cytotoxicity than its mono-alkylating analogs. Using three different 21-base pair DNA duplexes containing U-77779 reactive sequences, we have shown that U-77779 produces a stable interstrand cross-linked species that loses its internal self complementarity. A comparison of U-77779 with the mono-alkylating analogs of (+)-CC-1065 shows that it appears to have an increased sequence selectivity such that, while monoalkylating compounds like (+)-CC-1065 react at more than one site, U-77779 reacts only at sites where there are two suitably positioned alkylation sites. Chemical footprinting with 1,10-phenanthroline-copper complex revealed a six base pair cross-linked region between the two covalently modified adenines with modulated cleavage outside this region. In the case of hydroxyl radical footprinting, considerable variability of the extent of cleavage within the cross-linked sequence was found. These results are discussed in terms of likely induced conformational changes in DNA. In contrast to (+)-CC-1065, non-denaturing gel electrophoresis did not reveal any net bending of DNA due to U-77779, which we believe is due to the 180 out-of-phase bending produced on opposite strands of DNA by the cross-linker.