Clofarabine (ClF) is a drug used in the treatment of leukemia. One of its primary targets is human ribonucleotide reductase (hRNR), a dual-subunit, (α(2))(m)(β(2))(n), regulatory enzyme indispensable in de novo dNTP synthesis. We report that, in live mammalian cells, ClF targets hRNR by converting its α-subunit into kinetically stable hexamers. We established mammalian expression platforms that enabled isolation of functional α and characterization of its altered oligomeric associations in response to ClF treatment. Size exclusion chromatography and electron microscopy documented persistence of in-cell-assembled-α(6). Our data validate hRNR as an important target of ClF, provide evidence that in vivo α's quaternary structure can be perturbed by a nonnatural ligand, and suggest small-molecule-promoted, persistent hexamerization as a strategy to modulate hRNR activity. These studies lay foundations for documentation of RNR oligomeric state within a cell.
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