Increased DNA Synthesis and Repair-Enzyme Expression in Lymphocytes From Patients With Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Resistant to Nitrogen Mustards
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Resistance to the nitrogen mustards in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) correlates with an enhanced removal of melphalan-induced DNA interstrand cross-links. This finding suggests that DNA repair enzymes may be involved in this process. The activity of 3-methyladenine-DNA glycosylase, which can release altered bases, including adducts at the N-7 position of guanine, was increased significantly in lymphocytes from patients with resistant CLL compared with those from untreated CLL patients. Since glycosylase activity varies with cell proliferation, the amount of [3H]thymidine incorporated into DNA was determined and found to be elevated almost threefold in lymphocytes from patients with resistant CLL. The ratio of glycosylase activity to level of thymidine incorporation did not differ between these two groups of patients. Northern blot analysis of ERCC1 gene (a putative DNA repair enzyme involved in nucleotide excision repair) expression in lymphocytes from patients with CLL revealed multiple gene transcripts (1.1, 3.4, and 3.8 kilobases). In addition, analysis of two samples revealed the presence of a 2.6-kilobase transcript. The 2.6-kilobase transcript was recognized by specific RNA probes that hybridize to antisense ERCC1 transcripts. Levels of expression of the 1.1-kilobase protein encoding transcript in lymphocytes from patients with resistant CLL were increased twofold to threefold above those of untreated patients with CLL. These results indicate that increased expression of ERCC1 and increased activity of 3-methyladenine-DNA glycosylase occur with the development of resistance to the nitrogen mustards in patients with CLL, suggesting a role for enhanced DNA repair in this process.
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