Effects of Inhibition of O6‐Alkylguanine‐DNA Alkyltransferase in Rats on Carcinogenesis by Methylnitrosourea and Ethylnitrosourea

William Lijinsky, Anthony E. Pegg, Miriam R. Anver, Robert C. Moschel

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11 Scopus citations


Many alkylating agents are potent carcinogens and there is considerable evidence that the formation of O6‐alkylguanine in DNA can lead to mutations and the initiation of neoplastic growth. The repair of O6‐methyl‐ or O6‐ethylguanine in DNA is known to be brought about by the action of a protein termed O6‐alkylguanine‐DNA alkyltransferase. In order to investigate the role of this activity in the carcinogenic action of methylnitrosourea and ethylnitrosourea, O6‐benzylguanine, a potent inhibitor of the alkyltransferase, was used. Groups of 20 female F344 rats were treated with the nitrosourea (0.2 mmol) by gavage in 10 weekly doses and a parallel group was also treated with 4 mg of O6‐benzylguanine, 2 h prior to each dose of the nitrosourea. This dose of O6‐benzylguanine was sufficient to reduce the alkyltransferase activity to zero in the liver for at least 8 h but activity had returned to about 60% of normal within 24 h. Animals were maintained until they became moribund, when they were killed, or until death related to tumors. The median week of death in the animals receiving methylnitrosourea was reduced from 60 wk to 52 wk by co‐treatment with O6‐benzylguanine. There was a smaller reduction from 55 to 50 wk in the rats receiving ethylnitrosourea. The treatment with O6‐benzylguanine caused no significant change in the incidence of the principal tumors induced by the alkylnitrosoureas and there were no liver tumors produced by the combined treatments. These results show that the level of inactivation of alkyltransferase produced by this dose of O6‐benzylguanine was not sufficient to greatly alter the potent carcinogenic effect of these doses of alkylnitrosoureas in this system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-230
Number of pages5
JournalJapanese Journal of Cancer Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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