Correlation between in vitro DNA synthesis, DNA strand separation and in vivo multiplication of cancer cells

Exp Cell Biol. 1981;49(4):220-31. doi: 10.1159/000163825.


The chemicals 9, 10-dimethylbenzanthracene (DMBA), ethionine, daunorubicin, actinomycin D, 1-(2-chloroethyl-1)-nitrosourea (CCNU), steroids, croton oil and dimethyl-sulfoxide (DMSO) were used in order to correlate their effect on the in vitro synthesis of normal and cancer DNA, on DNA strand separation and on accelerated in vivo multiplication of cancer cells. All of the compounds tested strongly stimulate the synthesis of cancer DNA in vitro catalyzed by DNA-dependent DNA polymerase I and measured as an acid-precipitable labeled product. Under the same conditions, the synthesis of DNA originating from healthy tissues is only slightly enhanced, except in the case of croton oil and DMSO. These substances are almost equally active on cancer and normal DNA. Although both cancer and normal DNA contain a large amount of double-stranded regions, the extent of DNA strand separation measured by the increase in UV absorbance (hyperchromicity) in the presence of each compound tested is much higher for all cancer DNA than for corresponding normal DNA. In contrast, DMSO and croton oil do not appear to distinguish cancer DNA from normal DNA. Additive and differential effects of various compounds on cancer DNA strand separation can be observed. Small doses of DMBA and CCNU stimulate the multiplication of Ehrlich ascites tumor cells in vivo in mice. There is thus a possible correlation between DNA strand separation, DNA synthesis, multiplication and differentiation of cancer cells in the presence of the above compounds, which is different from the response of normal cells to these compounds.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Carcinogens / pharmacology*
  • Carcinoma, Ehrlich Tumor / pathology*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Croton Oil / pharmacology
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA, Neoplasm / metabolism*
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / pharmacology
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Testosterone / pharmacology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Carcinogens
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Testosterone
  • Estradiol
  • Croton Oil
  • DNA
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide