Object: Temozolomide (TMZ)-induced O6-methylguanine (MG) DNA lesions, if not removed by MG-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT), mispair with thymine, trigger rounds of futile mismatch repair (MMR), and in glioma cells lead to prolonged G2-M arrest and ultimately cell death. Depletion of MGMT by O6-benzylguanine (BG) sensitizes tumor cells to TMZ, and this combination is currently used in clinical trials. The use of the TMZ+BG combination in gliomas, however, is complicated by the prolonged TMZ-induced G2-M arrest, which may delay activation of poorly defined cell death pathways and allow for MGMT repletion and reversal of toxicity.
Methods: To address these issues, the actions of TMZ were monitored in DNA MMR-proficient SF767 glioma cells depleted of MGMT by BG, and in cells in which BG was removed at various times after TMZ exposure. In MGMT-depleted cells, TMZ exposure led to DNA single-strand breaks and phosphorylation of cdc2, followed by G2-M arrest, induction of p53/p21, and DNA double-strand breaks. Although DNA single-strand breaks, phosphorylation of cdc2, and G2-M arrest could be reversed by repletion of MGMT up to 5 days after TMZ exposure, TMZ-induced cytotoxicity could only be prevented if MGMT was replenished within 24 hours of the onset of G2-M arrest, and before the creation of DNA double-strand breaks.
Conclusions: These results indicate that although SF767 glioma cells undergo a prolonged G2-M arrest in response to TMZ, their ability to escape TMZ-induced cytotoxicity by MGMT repletion is limited to an approximately 24-hour period after the onset of G2-M arrest.