Aplidine, dehydrodidemnin B, is a marine depsipeptide isolated from the Mediterranean tunicate Aplidium albicans currently in phase II clinical trial. In human Molt-4 leukaemia cells Aplidine was found to be cytotoxic at nanomolar concentrations and to induce both a G(1) arrest and a G(2) blockade. The drug-induced cell cycle perturbations and subsequent cell death do not appear to be related to macromolecular synthesis (protein, RNA, DNA) since the effects occur at concentrations (e.g. 10 nM) in which macromolecule synthesis was not markedly affected. Ten nM Aplidine for 1 h inhibited ornithine decarboxylase activity, with a subsequently strong decrease in putrescine levels. This finding has questionable relevance since addition of putrescine did not significantly reduce the cell cycle perturbations or the cytotoxicity of Aplidine. The cell cycle perturbations caused by Aplidine were also not due to an effect on the cyclin-dependent kinases. Although the mechanism of action of Aplidine is still unclear, the cell cycle phase perturbations and the rapid induction of apoptosis in Molt-4 cells appear to be due to a mechanism different from that of known anticancer drugs.
Copyright 2002 Cancer Research UK