Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology

, Volume 74, Issue 2, pp 291–302 | Cite as

Novel DNA methyltransferase-1 (DNMT1) depleting anticancer nucleosides, 4′-thio-2′-deoxycytidine and 5-aza-4′-thio-2′-deoxycytidine

  • Jaideep V. ThottasseryEmail author
  • Vijaya Sambandam
  • Paula W. Allan
  • Joseph A. Maddry
  • Yulia Y. Maxuitenko
  • Kamal Tiwari
  • Melinda Hollingshead
  • William B. ParkerEmail author
Original Article



Currently approved DNA hypomethylating nucleosides elicit their effects in part by depleting DNA methyltransferase I (DNMT1). However, their low response rates and adverse effects continue to drive the discovery of newer DNMT1 depleting agents. Herein, we identified two novel 2′-deoxycytidine (dCyd) analogs, 4′-thio-2′-deoxycytidine (T-dCyd) and 5-aza-4′-thio-2′-deoxycytidine (aza-T-dCyd) that potently deplete DNMT1 in both in vitro and in vivo models of cancer and concomitantly inhibit tumor growth.


DNMT1 protein levels in in vitro and in vivo cancer models were determined by Western blotting and antitumor efficacy was evaluated using xenografts. Effects on CpG methylation were evaluated using methylation-specific PCR. T-dCyd metabolism was evaluated using radiolabeled substrate.


T-dCyd markedly depleted DNMT1 in CCRF-CEM and KG1a leukemia and NCI-H23 lung carcinoma cell lines, while it was ineffective in the HCT-116 colon or IGROV-1 ovarian tumor lines. On the other hand, aza-T-dCyd potently depleted DNMT1 in all of these lines indicating that dCyd analogs with minor structural dissimilarities induce different DNMT1 turnover mechanisms. Although T-dCyd was deaminated to 4′-thio-2′-deoxyuridine, very little was converted to 4′-thio-thymidine nucleotides, suggesting that inhibition of thymidylate synthase would be minimal with 4′-thio dCyd analogs. Both T-dCyd and aza-T-dCyd also depleted DNMT1 in human tumor xenografts and markedly reduced in vivo tumor growth. Interestingly, the selectivity index of aza-T-dCyd was at least tenfold greater than that of decitabine.


Collectively, these data show that 4′-thio modified dCyd analogs, such as T-dCyd or aza-T-dCyd, could be a new source of clinically effective DNMT1 depleting anticancer compounds with less toxicity.


DNMT1 DNA methyltransferase Decitabine Azacytidine Zebularine Deoxycytidine 



We thank Dr. Mark Suto for careful review of the manuscript. We also thank Dr. Joel Morris for T-dCyd synthesis and Dr. Robert J. Kinders for providing tumor lysates from T-dCyd-treated mice. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products or organizations imply endorsement by the US Government. NCI-Frederick and Southern Research Institute are accredited by AAALAC International and follows the Public Health Service Policy for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Animal care was provided in accordance with the procedures outlined in the “Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals” (National Research Council; 2010; National Academy Press; Washington, D.C.). Work described in this report was funded by NIH Grant # P01 CA34200, NCI contract N01-CO-12400, the ADDA (Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance) and the UAB Center for Clinical and Translational Science under 5UL1 RR025777.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaideep V. Thottassery
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Vijaya Sambandam
    • 1
  • Paula W. Allan
    • 1
  • Joseph A. Maddry
    • 1
  • Yulia Y. Maxuitenko
    • 1
  • Kamal Tiwari
    • 1
  • Melinda Hollingshead
    • 2
  • William B. Parker
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Drug Discovery DivisionSouthern Research InstituteBirminghamUSA
  2. 2.Biological Testing BranchNCI at FrederickFrederickUSA
  3. 3.University of Alabama at Birmingham, Comprehensive Cancer CenterBirminghamUSA

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