Gemcitabine Eliminates Double Minute Chromosomes From Human Ovarian Cancer Cells

PLoS One. 2013 Aug 22;8(8):e71988. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071988. eCollection 2013.


Double minute chromosomes are cytogenetic manifestations of gene amplification frequently seen in cancer cells. Genes amplified on double minute chromosomes include oncogenes and multi-drug resistant genes. These genes encode proteins which contribute to cancer formation, cancer progression, and development of resistance to drugs used in cancer treatment. Elimination of double minute chromosomes, and therefore genes amplified on them, is an effective way to decrease the malignancy of cancer cells. We investigated the effectiveness of a cancer drug, gemcitabine, on the loss of double minute chromosomes from the ovarian cancer cell line UACC-1598. Gemcitabine is able to decrease the number of double minute chromosomes in cells at a 7500X lower concentration than the commonly used cancer drug hydroxyurea. Amplified genes present on the double minute chromosomes are decreased at the DNA level upon gemcitabine treatment. Gemcitabine, even at a low nanomolar concentration, is able to cause DNA damage. The selective incorporation of double minutes chromatin and γ-H2AX signals into micronuclei provides a strong link between DNA damage and the loss of double minute chromosomes from gemcitabine treated cells. Cells treated with gemcitabine also showed decreased cell growth, colony formation, and invasion. Together, our results suggest that gemcitabine is effective in decreasing double minute chromosomes and this affects the biology of ovarian cancer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • DNA Damage / drug effects
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • DNA, Neoplasm / metabolism
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Deoxycytidine / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Gene Amplification / drug effects*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyurea / pharmacology
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Micronuclei, Chromosome-Defective / drug effects*
  • Myeloid Cell Leukemia Sequence 1 Protein / genetics
  • N-Myc Proto-Oncogene Protein
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Peptide Initiation Factors / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • H2AX protein, human
  • Histones
  • MCL1 protein, human
  • MYCN protein, human
  • Myeloid Cell Leukemia Sequence 1 Protein
  • N-Myc Proto-Oncogene Protein
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Oncogene Proteins
  • Peptide Initiation Factors
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5A
  • Deoxycytidine
  • gemcitabine
  • Hydroxyurea

Grant support

This work was supported by the International Science & Technology Cooperation Program of China (2013DFA31610 to S.F.), the Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University (IRT1230 to Y.J.), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31000626 and 31271347 to W.S., 81201761 to L.Y.), and the New Century Support Program for the Excellent Scholar, Ministry of Education of China (NCET-10-0149 to W.S., NCET-11-0954 to Y.Y.). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.