Mitomycin-DNA adducts induce p53-dependent and p5-independent cell death pathways

Ernest K. Boamah, David E. White, Kathryn E. Talbott, Nicoleta C. Arva, Daniel Berman, Maria Tomasz, Jill Bargonetti*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


10-Decarbamoyl-mitomycin C (DMC), a mitomycin C (MC) derivative, generates an array of DNA monoadducts and interstrand cross-links stereoisomeric to those that are generated by MC. DMC was previously shown in our laboratory to exceed the cytotoxicity of MC in a human leukemia cell line that lacks a functional p53 pathway (K562). However, the molecular signal transduction pathway activated by DMC-DNA adducts has not been investigated. In this study, we have compared molecular targets associated with signaling pathways activated by DMC and MC in several human cancer cell lines. In cell lines lacking wild-type p53, DMC was reproducibly more cytotoxic than MC, but it generated barely detectable signal transduction markers associated with apoptotic death. Strikingly, DMC's increased cytotoxicity was not associated with an increase in DNA double-strand breaks but was associated with early poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) activation and Chk1 kinase depletion. Alkylating agents can induce increased PARP activity associated with programmed necrosis, and the biological activity of DMC in p53-null cell lines fits this paradigm. In cell lines with a functional p53 pathway, both MC and DMC induced apoptosis. In the presence of p53, both MC and DMC activate procaspases; however, the spectrum of procaspases involved differs for the two drugs, as does induction of p73. These studies suggest that in the absence of p53, signaling to molecular targets in cell death can shift in response to different DNA adduct structures to induce non-apoptotic cell death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-407
Number of pages9
JournalACS chemical biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine


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