Poisons of topoisomerase II (TOP2) kill cancer cells by preventing religation of intermediate DNA breaks during the enzymatic process and thus by accumulating enzyme-drug-DNA complexes called TOP2 cleavage-complex (TOP2cc). F14512 is a highly cytotoxic polyamine-vectorized TOP2 inhibitor derived from etoposide and currently in clinical trials. It was shown in vitro that F14512 has acquired DNA-binding properties and that the stability of TOP2cc was strongly increased. Paradoxically, at equitoxic concentrations in cells, F14512 induced less DNA breaks than etoposide. Here, we directly compared etoposide and F14512 for their rates of TOP2cc production and resolution in human cells. We report that targeting of TOP2α and not TOP2β impacts cell killing by F14512, contrary to etoposide that kills cells through targeting both isoforms. Then, we show that despite being more cytotoxic, F14512 is less efficient than etoposide at producing TOP2α cleavage-complex (TOP2αcc) in cells. Finally, we report that compared with TOP2αcc mediated by etoposide, those generated by F14512 persist longer in the genome, are not dependent on TDP2 for cleaning break ends from TOP2α, are channeled to a larger extent to resection-based repair processes relying on CtIP and BRCA1 and promote RAD51 recruitment to damaged chromatin. In addition to the addressing of F14512 to the polyamine transport system, the properties uncovered here would be particularly valuable for a therapeutic usage of this new anticancer compound. More generally, the concept of increasing drug cytotoxicity by switching the repair mode of the induced DNA lesions via addition of a DNA-binding moiety deserves further developments. Mol Cancer Ther; 16(10); 2166-77. ©2017 AACR.
©2017 American Association for Cancer Research.