A three-in-one-bullet for oesophageal cancer: replication fork collapse, spindle attachment failure and enhanced radiosensitivity generated by a ruthenium(ii) metallo-intercalator.
Gill MR., Jarman PJ., Halder S., Walker MG., Saeed HK., Thomas JA., Smythe C., Ramadan K., Vallis KA.
Substitutionally inert ruthenium(ii) polypyridyl complexes have been developed as DNA intercalating agents yet cellular DNA damage responses to this binding modality are largely unexplored. Here, we show the nuclear-targeting complex [Ru(phen)2(tpphz)]2+ (phen = 1,10-phenanthroline, tpphz = tetrapyridophenazine) generates rapid and pronounced stalling of replication fork progression in p53-deficient human oesophageal cancer cells. In response, replication stress and double-strand break (DSB) DNA damage response (DDR) pathways are activated and cell proliferation is inhibited by growth arrest. Moreover, mitotic progression is compromised by [Ru(phen)2(tpphz)]2+, where the generation of metaphase chromosome spindle attachment failure results in spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) activation. This dual mechanism of action results in preferential growth inhibition of rapidly-proliferating oesophageal cancer cells with elevated mitotic indices. In addition to these single-agent effects, [Ru(phen)2(tpphz)]2+ functions as a radiosensitizer with efficiency comparable to cisplatin, which occurs through a synergistic enhancement of DNA damage. These results establish that DNA replication is the target for [Ru(phen)2(tpphz)]2+ and provide the first experimental evidence that ruthenium-based intercalation targets multiple genome integrity pathways in cancer cells, thereby achieving enhanced selectivity compared to existing DNA-damaging agents such as cisplatin.