Studies on the mechanism of action on antitumour imidazotetrazinones
This thesis attempts to identify the cellular targets important to the cytotoxicity of imidazotetrazinones, to elucidate the pathways by which this damage leads to cell death, and to identify mechanisms by which tumour cells may circumvent this action. The levels of the DNA repair enzymes O6-alkylguanine-DNA-alkyltransferase (O6-AGAT) and 3-methyladenine-DNA-glycosylase (3MAG) have been examined in a range of murine and human cell lines with differential sensitivity to temozolomide. All the cell lines were proficient in 3MAG despite there being 40-fold difference in sensitivity to temozolomide. This suggests that while 3-methyladenine is a major product of temozolomide alkylation of DNA it is unlikely to be a cytotoxic lesion. In contrast, there was a 20-fold variation in O6-AGAT levels and the concentration of this repair enzyme correlated with variations in cytotoxicity. Furthermore, depletion of this enzyme in a resistant, O6-AGAT proficient cell line (Raji), by pre-treatment with the free base O6-methylguanine resulted in 54% sensitisation to the effects of temozolomide. These observations have been extended to 3 glioma cell lines; results that support the view that the cytotoxicity of temozolomide is related to alkylation at the O6-position of guanine and that resistance to this drug is determined by efficient repair of this lesion. It is clear, however, the other factors may influence tumour response since temozolomide showed little differential activity towards 3 established solid murine tumours in vivo, despite different tumour O6-AGAT levels.