DNA topoisomerase IIα (TOP2α) is a prominent target for anticancer drugs whose clinical efficacy is often limited by chemoresistance. Using antibody specific for the N-terminal of TOP2α, immunoassays indicated the existence of two TOP2α isoforms, 170 and 90 kDa, present in K562 leukemia cells and in an acquired etoposide (VP-16)-resistant clone (K/VP.5). TOP2α/90 expression was dramatically increased in etoposide-resistant K/VP.5 compared with parental K562 cells. We hypothesized that TOP2α/90 was the translation product of novel alternatively processed pre-mRNA, confirmed by 3′-rapid amplification of cDNA ends, polymerase chain reaction, and sequencing. TOP2α/90 mRNA includes retained intron 19, which harbors an in-frame stop codon, and two consensus poly(A) sites. The processed transcript is polyadenylated. TOP2α/90 mRNA encodes a 90,076-Da translation product missing the C-terminal 770 amino acids of TOP2α/170, replaced by 25 unique amino acids through translation of the exon 19/intron 19 read-through. Immunoassays, utilizing antisera raised against these unique amino acids, confirmed that TOP2α/90 is expressed in both cell types, with overexpression in K/VP.5 cells. Immunodetection of complex of enzyme-to-DNA and single-cell gel electrophoresis (Comet) assays demonstrated that K562 cells transfected with a TOP2α/90 expression plasmid exhibited reduced etoposide-mediated TOP2α–DNA covalent complexes and decreased etoposide-induced DNA damage, respectively, compared with similarly treated K562 cells transfected with empty vector. Because TOP2α/90 lacks the active site tyrosine (Tyr805) of full-length TOP2α, these results strongly suggest that TOP2α/90 exhibits dominant-negative properties. Further studies are underway to characterize the mechanism(s) by which TOP2α/90 plays a role in acquired resistance to etoposide and other TOP2α targeting agents.
- Received August 9, 2016.
- Accepted November 4, 2016.
- Copyright © 2016 by The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics