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Article (Journal or Newsletter)

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Faculty Scholarship

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Like platinum-based chemotherapeutics, the anticancer ruthenium complex indazolium trans-[tetrachlorobis(1H-indazole)ruthenate(iii)], or KP1019, damages DNA, induces apoptosis, and causes tumor regression in animal models. Unlike platinum-based drugs, KP1019 showed no dose-limiting toxicity in a phase I clinical trial. Despite these advances, the mechanism(s) and target(s) of KP1019 remain unclear. For example, the drug may damage DNA directly or by causing oxidative stress. Likewise, KP1019 binds cytosolic proteins, suggesting DNA is not the sole target. Here we use the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model in a proteomic study of the cellular response to KP1019. Mapping protein level changes onto metabolic pathways revealed patterns consistent with elevated synthesis and/or cycling of the antioxidant glutathione, suggesting KP1019 induces oxidative stress. This result was supported by increased fluorescence of the redox-sensitive dye DCFH-DA and increased KP1019 sensitivity of yeast lacking Yap1, a master regulator of the oxidative stress response. In addition to oxidative and DNA stress, bioinformatic analysis revealed drug-dependent increases in proteins involved ribosome biogenesis, translation, and protein (re)folding. Consistent with proteotoxic effects, KP1019 increased expression of a heat-shock element (HSE) lacZ reporter. KP1019 pre-treatment also sensitized yeast to oxaliplatin, paralleling prior research showing that cancer cell lines with elevated levels of translation machinery are hypersensitive to oxaliplatin. Combined, these data suggest that one of KP1019’s many targets may be protein metabolism, which opens up intriguing possibilities for combination therapy.


Open access publication of this article was supported by the Furman University Libraries Open Access Fund.

Additional Affiliated Department, Center or Institute


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