Overview of ribonucleotide reductase inhibitors: an appealing target in anti-tumour therapy

Curr Med Chem. 2005;12(11):1283-94. doi: 10.2174/0929867054020981.


This review provides up-to-date information on the inhibition of ribonucleotide reductase (RNR), the enzyme that catalyses the reduction of ribonucleotides into deoxyribonucleotides. Taking in account that DNA replication and repair are essential mechanisms for cell integrity and are dependent on the availability of deoxyribonucleotides, many researchers are giving special attention to this enzyme, since it is an attractive target to treat several diseases of our time specially cancer. This investment has already given some benefits since some of these inhibitors show potent chemotherapeutic efficacy against a wide range of tumours such as non-small cell lung cancer, adenocarcinoma of pancreas, bladder cancer, leukaemia and some solid tumours. In fact a few of them have already been approved for the clinical treatment of some kinds of cancer. All aspects of RNR inhibition and corresponding inhibitors are the subjects of this review. The inhibitors are divided in three main groups: translation inhibitors, which unable the formation of the enzyme; dimerization inhibitors that prevent the complexation of the two RNR subunits (R1 and R2); and catalytic inhibitors that inactivate subunit R1 and/or subunit R2, leading to RNR inactivity. In this last group special focus will be addressed to substrate analogues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Catalysis / drug effects
  • Dimerization
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Ribonucleotide Reductases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Ribonucleotide Reductases / metabolism
  • Ribonucleotides / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Ribonucleotides
  • Ribonucleotide Reductases