N-(phosphonacetyl)-L-aspartate synergistically enhances the cytotoxicity of 5-fluorouracil/interferon-α-2a against human colon cancer cell lines

S. Wadler, X. Mao, R. Bajaj, S. Hallam, E. L. Schwartz

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9 Scopus citations


Recombinant interferon-α (IFN) enhances the cytotoxic effects of the fluorinated pyrimidine, 5-fluorouracil (5FU), against two human colon cancer cell lines. The aspartate transcarbamylase (ATCase) inhibitor, N- (phosphonacetyl)-L-aspartate (PALA), was studied in combination with 5FU/IFN to determine whether further anti-pyrimidine effects would result in greater cytotoxicity. By median effects analysis PALA synergistically augmented the cytotoxic effects of 5FU/IFN against both human colon cancer cell lines. This occurred in the absence of any effects of 5FU/IFN on ATCase and without further potentiation of the PALA-mediated inhibition of ATCase. To explore the mechanism by which this interaction occurred, detailed studies of pools of dNTPs were performed. Both 5FU/IFN and PALA/5FU/IFN treatments resulted in early (2-8 hr) depletion of pools of dTTP, but no effects on pools of dCTP. PALA had no effect on dTTP pools either alone or in the combination. In contrast, both PALA and PALA/5FU/IFN treatments resulted in later (12-24 hr) depletion of pools of dCTP. 5FU/IFN treatment had no effect on these pools. When pools of dCTP and dTTP were repleted by treatment with cytidine or thymidine, 20 μM, however, there was only partial reversal of cytotoxicity induced by 5FU/IFN + PALA, suggesting that the synergy observed did not result solely from a sequential anti-pyrimidine effect. The incorporation of 5FU into RNA was also studied; PALA enhanced the incorporation of [6-3H]5FU into RNA by 83-150%, but not into DNA, suggesting an alternative mechanism of drug interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1070-1076
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Pharmacology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1993


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology

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