O6-Alkylguanine-DNA alkyltransferase (AGT) is a DNA repair protein that provides protection from alkylating agents such as dacarbazine, temozolomide, and 1,3-bis-(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea (BCNU), which are used for cancer chemotherapy. O6-Benzylguanine (BG) is an inhibitor of AGT that sensitizes tumors to these agents. BG is currently in clinical trials. It is possible that the presence of resistant forms of AGT may limit the effectiveness of this strategy. Previous studies have shown that the AGT mutant G160R, which may occur naturally as a result of a polymorphism in the AGT gene, is resistant to BG, whereas the mutants G160W and G160A are actually more sensitive to the inhibitor. To examine other mutations at this site, a random sequence was placed at codon 160 in the AGT cDNA, and a plasmid library was constructed to express these sequences in Escherichia coli. After selection with BG and N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine, BG-resistant mutants were obtained and analyzed. Eleven different amino acid substitutions were found to impart BG resistance by this assay. The most resistant mutants contained histidine or arginine, which had EC50 values of 12 and 4.7 μM, respectively, compared with the wild-type EC50 of 0.08 μM, but nine other alterations led to at least a 10-fold rise in the EC50 value. Three additional mutations at codon 160 were constructed by site-directed mutagenesis, and these led to 6- to 11-fold increases in resistance to BG. Comparisons of the properties of mutants G160R and G160E showed that the presence of DNA enhanced the reaction with BG much more strongly when an acidic residue was present at this position. This may account for the lack of selection of the G160E mutation even though it did impart resistance to BG. These results indicate that many alterations of AGT at position 160 can lead to significant resistance to BG. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Inc.
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