Characterization of DNA fragmentation events caused by genotoxic and non-genotoxic agents

Jonathan E. Ploski, Peter D. Aplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Leukemic cells have been shown to generate several classes of DNA fragments after treatment with cytotoxic cancer chemotherapy agents. However, it is unclear which of these fragmentation events are a direct effect of DNA-damaging chemotherapy agents, and which fragmentation events are caused by downstream processes, such as apoptosis. We have performed a detailed analysis of DNA fragmentation events which occur following cytotoxic chemotherapy in four representative leukemic cell lines (HL-60, Jurkat, K562, and Molt-4). We used a DNA topoisomerase II inhibitor (etoposide), an alkylating agent (melphalan), a nucleoside analog (cytosine arabinoside), and a non-genotoxic agent (N-methylformamide) to induce cell death. We studied high molecular weight and low molecular weight DNA fragmentation events, as well as the specific cleavage of the MLL breakpoint cluster region (bcr). The DNA fragments produced at late time points were largely independent of the agents used, while those generated at earlier time points showed clear differences in terms of fragment size and relative abundance, depending on the agent used. In addition, there were clear differences between cell lines in terms of size, relative abundance, and rate at which DNA fragments were produced by treatment with the same agents. We think that this survey documents the importance of studying several different cell lines, time points, and assays before reaching conclusions about the types of DNA fragments produced during treatment with cytotoxic agents, and provides a useful framework for studying a wide range of DNA fragments produced by cytotoxic agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-180
Number of pages12
JournalMutation Research - Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 20 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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