From amsacrine to DACA (N-[2-(dimethylamino)ethyl]acridine-4-carboxamide): selectivity for topoisomerases I and II among acridine derivatives

European Journal of Cancer : Official Journal for European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) [and] European Association for Cancer Research (EACR)
G J FinlayB C Baguley


A number of acridine derivatives, including the clinical antileukaemia agent amsacrine and the experimental agent DACA (N-[2-(dimethylamino)ethyl]acridine-4-carboxamide), target the enzyme topoisomerase II. We demonstrate here that DACA induces DNA cleavage in the presence of topoisomerase I as well as of topoisomerase II. We also investigate a series of acridine derivatives which link amsacrine to DACA in terms of DNA binding, topoisomerase poisoning and biological activity. The presence of an acridine 4-linked N-2-(dimethylamino)ethyl group provides both a pronounced G-C preference for DNA binding and activity towards topoisomerase I. The removal of the anilino side chain of amsacrine, in combination with the presence of the N-2-(dimethylamino)ethyl group, provides in vitro biological activity against "atypical" multidrug resistant leukaemia lines with low topoisomerase II activity. Among these compounds, suppression of the ionisation of the acridine nitrogen to produce the compound DACA is associated with experimental activity against solid tumours. The addition of an acridine 2-chloro substituent to DACA suppresses the stimulation of topoisomerase II-dependent DNA cleavage but increases stimulation of topoisomerase I cleava...Continue Reading


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