Sensitivity to camptothecin in Aspergillus nidulans identifies a novel gene, scaA+, related to the cellular DNA damage response

Mol Genet Genomics. 2001 Apr;265(2):264-75. doi: 10.1007/s004380000411.


The anti-cancer drug camptothecin targets eukaryotic DNA topoisomerase I by trapping the covalent complex formed between the catalytically active enzyme and DNA. We are interested in identifying factors, other than topoisomerase I, that are involved in mediating cellular sensitivity to camptothecin. To this end, we have isolated eighteen mutants that are sensitive to camptothecin (sca) in the filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans and characterised one of them, sca299. The mutant sca299 is hypersensitive to camptothecin, and sensitive to several different mutagenic agents and to actinomycin D. Using temperature-sensitive mutations in genes that are known to regulate the cell cycle, we showed that the camptothecin sensitivity of the mutant sca299 is not affected by a mitotic block. The abnormal nuclear morphology observed in the sca299 mutant strain suggests that the germlings might be undergoing mitosis in the presence of unrepaired DNA damage, which would result in mitotic catastrophe. The hypersensitivity of the sca299 mutant to camptothecin does not result from elevated levels of topoisomerase I mRNA or from alterations in enzyme activity. Using DNA-mediated complementation of the sca299 mutant phenotype, the scaA+ gene was cloned. This gene encodes a 594-amino acid product; moderate structural similarity suggests that the scaA gene product may be related to the human nibrin gene which encodes a product involved in DNA double-strand break repair. Strains disrupted in the scaA gene were sensitive to the anti-topoisomerase I agent berberine, the DNA crosslinking agents mitomycin C and cis-platinum, and also to t-butyl hydroperoxide, which is an inducer of oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Aspergillus nidulans / drug effects
  • Aspergillus nidulans / genetics*
  • Base Sequence
  • Camptothecin / pharmacology*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA Damage*
  • DNA Repair*
  • DNA, Fungal
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics*
  • Fungal Proteins / physiology
  • Genes, Fungal
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mitosis / drug effects
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Topoisomerase I Inhibitors*


  • DNA, Fungal
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Topoisomerase I Inhibitors
  • scaA protein, Aspergillus
  • Camptothecin

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF228504