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Loss of unstably amplified dihydrofolate reductase genes from mouse cells is greatly accelerated by hydroxyurea.

By R M Snapka and A Varshavsky


Previous work has shown that mammalian cells that carry unstably amplified genes for dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) gradually lose the amplified DHFR genes when grown in the absence of the DHFR inhibitor methotrexate (MTX). Unstably amplified genes occur on small acentric chromosomes called double minutes (DMs) or even smaller chromatin fragments, in contrast to stably amplified genes, which reside in centromere-containing chromosomes. We have found that the rate of loss of the unstably amplified DHFR genes can be greatly oncreased by growing the cells in the presence of a nonlethal concentration of hydroxyurea. For example, in one MTX-resistant subline studied, approximately equal to 90% of the original DHFR gene dosage is lost in 25-30 cell doublings in the absence of MTX. The same degree of loss is achieved, however, in less than 4 doublings if cells are grown in the presence of 50 microM hydroxyurea. This new effect of hydroxyurea does not appear to be due to changes in plating efficiency or selective cytotoxicity. In particular, no increase in cell death occurs at 50 microM hydroxyurea, and cells continue to multiply, albeit 1/2 to 2/3 as fast as in the absence of hydroxyurea. The ability to selectively accelerate the loss of amplified genes from mammalian cells as shown in the present work may have important implications both for the problem of drug resistance in cancer chemotherapy and for curing mammalian cells of extrachromosomally maintained DNA genomes of pathogenic viruses

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1983
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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