Distinct roles of Ape1 protein in the repair of DNA damage induced by ionizing radiation or bleomycin

J Biol Chem. 2011 Feb 18;286(7):4968-77. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.146498. Epub 2010 Nov 15.


Ionizing radiation (IR) and bleomycin (BLM) are used to treat various types of cancers. Both agents generate cytotoxic double strand breaks (DSB) and abasic (apurinic/apyrimidinic (AP)) sites in DNA. The human AP endonuclease Ape1 acts on abasic or 3'-blocking DNA lesions such as those generated by IR or BLM. We examined the effect of siRNA-mediated Ape1 suppression on DNA repair and cellular resistance to IR or BLM in human B-lymphoblastoid TK6 cells and HCT116 colon tumor cells. Partial Ape1 deficiency (∼30% of normal levels) sensitized cells more dramatically to BLM than to IR cytotoxicity. In both cases, expression of the unrelated yeast AP endonuclease, Apn1, largely restored resistance. Ape1 deficiency increased DNA AP site accumulation due to IR treatment but reduced the number of DSB. In contrast, for BLM, there were more DSB under Ape1 deficiency, with little change in the accumulation of AP sites. Although the role of Ape1 in generating DSB was greater for IR, the enzyme facilitated removal of AP sites, which may mitigate the cytotoxic effects of IR. In contrast, BLM generates scattered AP sites, and the DSB have 3'-phosphoglycolate termini that require Ape1 processing. These DSB persist under Ape1 deficiency. Apoptosis induced by BLM (but not by IR) under Ape1 deficiency was partially p53-dependent, more dramatically in TK6 than HCT116 cells. Thus, Ape1 suppression or inhibition may be a more efficacious adjuvant for BLM than for IR cancer therapy, particularly for tumors with a functional p53 pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / pharmacology*
  • Bleomycin / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded / drug effects*
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded / radiation effects*
  • DNA Repair / drug effects*
  • DNA Repair / radiation effects*
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase / genetics
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase / metabolism*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Radiation Tolerance / drug effects
  • Radiation Tolerance / radiation effects
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant / methods
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • X-Rays


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • TP53 protein, human
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Bleomycin
  • APEX1 protein, human
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase