Antipyrimidine effects of five different pyrimidine de novo synthesis inhibitors in three head and neck cancer cell lines

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The pyrimidine de novo nucleotide synthesis consists of 6 sequential steps. Various inhibitors against these enzymes have been developed and evaluated in the clinic for their potential anticancer activity: acivicin inhibits carbamoyl-phosphate-synthase-II, N-(phosphonacetyl)-L- aspartate (PALA) inhibits aspartate-transcarbamylase, Brequinar sodium and dichloroallyl-lawsone (DCL) inhibit dihydroorotate-dehydrogenase, and pyrazofurin (PF) inhibits orotate-phosphoribosyltransferase. We compared their growth inhibition against 3 cell lines from head-and-neck-cancer (HEP-2, UMSCC-14B and UMSCC-14C) and related the sensitivity to their effects on nucleotide pools. In all cell lines Brequinar and PF were the most active compounds with IC50 (50% growth inhibition) values between 0.06–0.37 µM, Acivicin was as potent (IC50s 0.26-1 µM), but DCL was 20-31-fold less active. PALA was most inactive (24–128 µM). At equitoxic concentrations, all pure antipyrimidine de novo inhibitors depleted UTP and CTP after 24 hr exposure, which was most pronounced for Brequinar (between 6–10% of UTP left, and 12–36% CTP), followed by DCL and PF, which were almost similar (6–16% UTP and 12–27% CTP), while PALA was the least active compound (10–70% UTP and 13–68% CTP). Acivicin is a multi-target inhibitor of more glutamine requiring enzymes (including GMP synthetase) and no decrease of UTP was found, but a pronounced decrease in GTP (31–72% left). In conclusion, these 5 inhibitors of the pyrimidine de novo nucleotide synthesis varied considerably in their efficacy and effect on pyrimidine nucleotide pools. Inhibitors of DHO-DH were most effective suggesting a primary role of this enzyme in controlling pyrimidine nucleotide pools.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-339
JournalNucleosides, Nucleotides and Nucleic Acids
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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