Apoptosis induced in advanced CD8F1-murine mammary tumors by the combination of PALA, MMPR and 6AN precedes tumor regression and is preceded by ATP depletion

L. D. Nord, R. L. Stolfi, A. A. Alfieri, G. Netto, V. Reuter, S. S. Sternberg, J. R. Colofiore, J. A. Koutcher, D. S. Martin

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13 Scopus citations


The drug combination N-(phosphonacetyl)-L-aspartic acid (PALA), methylmercaptopurine riboside (MMPR) and 6-aminonicotinamide (6AN), referred to as PMA, induces regressions of advanced CD8F1 murine mammary carcinomas in vivo. We demonstrated that CD8F1 tumor regressions were preceded by the appearance of apoptotic bodies, as observed by microscopic examination of morphology and TUNEL end-labeling, and fragmentation of DNA into nucleosomal 'ladder' patterns. These indications of apoptosis were present as early as 6 h after simultaneous administration of MMPR and 6AN and further increased by over fivefold during the next 3 to 6 h, then remained at 7 to 12.8% (0.6 to 2.4% in saline-treated controls) of the cell population for at least 24 h after MMPR + 6AN administration. The 5'-phosphate derivative of MMRP, MMPR-5P, which inhibits de novo purine biosynthesis, was present at a 'steady-state' level, and significant (40%) depletion of ATP had occurred by 3 h and both of these events preceded the onset of apoptosis. In addition, MMPR-5P was retained in CD8F1 tumors at a high level over a prolonged period (>96 h) even as tumors were undergoing regression. The prolonged presence of MMPR-5P was important for optimal chemotherapeutic effect, since treatment with iodotubercidin (IodoT), an inhibitor of MMPR/adenosine kinase, 6 h after MMPR + 6AN administration prevented the prolonged accumulation of MMPR-5P and reversed the regression of CD8F1 tumors. In addition, compared to the PMA-treated group, there was a significant restoration of ATP levels after treatment with IodoT. In individual PMA-treated CD8F1 tumors the degree of ATP depletion was found to correlate with the degree of tumor shrinkage at 24 h, after tumors had sufficient time to respond to treatment. These results define the time-course of drug-induced apoptosis in CD8F1 tumors, show that ATP depletion occurs prior to apoptosis and demonstrate that prolonged retention of MMPR-5P is associated with optimal chemotherapy. Collectively, these results suggest that the depletion of ATP by PMA treatment may be a component of the biochemical apoptotic cascade in the CD8F1 tumor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-384
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • 6-Aminonicotinamide
  • Apoptosis
  • Fluorouracil
  • Iodotubercidin
  • Mammary carcinoma
  • Methylmercaptopurine riboside
  • N-(phosphonacetyl)-L-aspartic acid
  • Tumor regression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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