Doxorubicin, DNA torsion, and chromatin dynamics

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Jan;1845(1):84-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbcan.2013.12.002. Epub 2013 Dec 19.


Doxorubicin is one of the most important anti-cancer chemotherapeutic drugs, being widely used for the treatment of solid tumors and acute leukemias. The action of doxorubicin and other anthracycline drugs has been intensively investigated during the last several decades, but the mechanisms that have been proposed for cell killing remain disparate and controversial. In this review, we examine the proposed models for doxorubicin action from the perspective of the chromatin landscape, which is altered in many types of cancer due to recurrent mutations in chromatin modifiers. We highlight recent evidence for effects of anthracyclines on DNA torsion and chromatin dynamics that may underlie basic mechanisms of doxorubicin-mediated cell death and suggest new therapeutic strategies for cancer treatment.

Keywords: Anthracycline; Cancer; Chemotherapy; Chromatin dynamics; DNA torsion; Doxorubicin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / pharmacology*
  • Chromatin / drug effects*
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / drug effects*
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Nucleosomes / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Chromatin
  • Nucleosomes
  • Doxorubicin
  • DNA