The group's objectives are to establish the role of DNA damage and repair in the biological effects of specific genotoxic agents with the view to exploiting this in the treatment and prevention of cancer

Recent Submissions

  • Predicting the myelotoxicity of chemotherapy: the use of pretreatment O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase determination in peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

    Sabharwal, A; Waters, R; Danson, Sarah; Clamp, Andrew R; Lorigan, Paul C; Thatcher, Nick; Margison, Geoffrey P; Middleton, Mark R; Department of Medical Oncology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. (2011-12-21)
    To assess the value of pretreatment O-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in predicting haematological toxicity with O-alkylating agent chemotherapy, we explored this relationship retrospectively in melanoma patients. Ninety-three patients treated with temozolomide or dacarbazine in four clinical trials were assessed, and a model of the interaction between MGMT expression and haematological toxicity was constructed. Nadir white-cell and platelet counts were related to, and hence could be predicted from, pretreatment MGMT. Leucopenia and thrombocytopenia were more prevalent amongst patients with low pretreatment MGMT, according to the highest grades of toxicity experienced and/or the dose intensity patients could sustain. Addition of interferon to chemotherapy or compression of the temozolomide schedule increased the toxicity. The model also predicts significant myelotoxicity where PBMC MGMT is inactivated, consistent with the experience in the clinic with lomeguatrib and O-benzylguanine. Determination of MGMT in PBMC can identify patients at greatest risk of toxicity or who are suitable for dose intensification.
  • Flipping of alkylated DNA damage bridges base and nucleotide excision repair.

    Tubbs, Julie L; Latypov, Vitaly F; Kanugula, Sreenivas; Butt, Amna; Melikishvili, Manana; Kraehenbuehl, Rolf; Fleck, Oliver; Marriott, Andrew S; Watson, Amanda J; Verbeek, Barbara; et al. (2009-06-11)
    Alkyltransferase-like proteins (ATLs) share functional motifs with the cancer chemotherapy target O(6)-alkylguanine-DNA alkyltransferase (AGT) and paradoxically protect cells from the biological effects of DNA alkylation damage, despite lacking the reactive cysteine and alkyltransferase activity of AGT. Here we determine Schizosaccharomyces pombe ATL structures without and with damaged DNA containing the endogenous lesion O(6)-methylguanine or cigarette-smoke-derived O(6)-4-(3-pyridyl)-4-oxobutylguanine. These results reveal non-enzymatic DNA nucleotide flipping plus increased DNA distortion and binding pocket size compared to AGT. Our analysis of lesion-binding site conservation identifies new ATLs in sea anemone and ancestral archaea, indicating that ATL interactions are ancestral to present-day repair pathways in all domains of life. Genetic connections to mammalian XPG (also known as ERCC5) and ERCC1 in S. pombe homologues Rad13 and Swi10 and biochemical interactions with Escherichia coli UvrA and UvrC combined with structural results reveal that ATLs sculpt alkylated DNA to create a genetic and structural intersection of base damage processing with nucleotide excision repair.
  • GSTM1 copy number and lung cancer risk.

    Crosbie, Philip A J; Barber, Philip V; Harrison, Kathryn L; Gibbs, Alan R; Agius, Raymond M; Margison, Geoffrey P; Povey, Andrew C; Cancer Research UK Carcinogenesis Group, Paterson Institute for Cancer Research, Christie Hospital NHS Trust, Manchester, United Kingdom. (2009-05-12)
    The GSTM1 null genotype is associated with a small increased lung cancer risk when compared to controls with at least one copy of the GSTM1 gene. As two copies of the GSTM1 gene might provide more protection than a single copy, we have determined GSTM1 copy number in a lung cancer case-control study. Cases with incident lung cancer were identified through a Bronchoscopy Unit and two separate hospital based control groups with non-malignant disease were selected with one from the same Bronchoscopy Unit and the other from a chest clinic at the same hospital. Subjects with at least one GSTM1 copy had a decreased lung cancer risk whatever the control group: the odds ratio (95% CI), after adjustment for age, gender and smoking duration, was 0.64 (0.41-0.98) and 0.54 (0.32-0.91) with bronchoscopy and chest clinic controls, respectively. Lung cancer risk varied with GSTM1 copy number with chest clinic controls only: the OR was 0.56 (0.32-0.97) for one copy of the GSTM1 gene and with two copies 0.43 (0.15-1.22), a trend that was significant (p=0.02): with bronchoscopy controls the trend was not significant (p=0.07). Results then confirm that the presence of GSTM1 provides protection against the risk of lung cancer. In addition there is equivocal evidence that this protection varies with the number of gene copies.
  • O(6)-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase depletion and DNA damage in patients with melanoma treated with temozolomide alone or with lomeguatrib.

    Watson, Amanda J; Middleton, Mark R; McGown, Gail; Thorncroft, Mary R; Ranson, Malcolm R; Hersey, Peter; McArthur, Grant A; Davis, Ian D; Thomson, D; Beith, Jane; et al. (2009-04-21)
    We evaluated the pharmacodynamic effects of the O(6)-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) inactivator lomeguatrib (LM) on patients with melanoma in two clinical trials. Patients received temozolomide (TMZ) for 5 days either alone or with LM for 5, 10 or 14 days. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were isolated before treatment and during cycle 1. Where available, tumour biopsies were obtained after the last drug dose in cycle 1. Samples were assayed for MGMT activity, total MGMT protein, and O(6)-methylguanine (O(6)-meG) and N7-methylguanine levels in DNA. MGMT was completely inactivated in PBMC from patients receiving LM, but detectable in those on TMZ alone. Tumours biopsied on the last day of treatment showed complete inactivation of MGMT but there was recovery of activity in tumours sampled later. Significantly more O(6)-meG was present in the PBMC DNA of LM/TMZ patients than those on TMZ alone. LM/TMZ leads to greater MGMT inactivation, and higher levels of O(6)-meG than TMZ alone. Early recovery of MGMT activity in tumours suggested that more protracted dosing with LM is required. Extended dosing of LM completely inactivated PBMC MGMT, and resulted in persistent levels of O(6)-meG in PBMC DNA during treatment.
  • Dietary variables associated with DNA N7-methylguanine levels and O6-alkylguanine DNA-alkyltransferase activity in human colorectal mucosa.

    Billson, H A; Harrison, Kathryn L; Lees, Nicholas P; Hall, C Nicholas; Margison, Geoffrey P; Povey, Andrew C; Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group, School of Translational Medicine, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK. (2009-04)
    Components of human diets may influence the incidence of colorectal adenomas, by modifying exposure or susceptibility to DNA-damaging alkylating agents. To examine this hypothesis, a food frequency questionnaire was used to assess the diet of patients recruited for a case-referent study where biopsies of normal colorectal mucosa were collected during colonoscopy and subsequently analysed for DNA N7-methylguanine (N7-MeG) levels, as an indicator of exposure, and activity of the DNA repair protein O6-alkylguanine DNA-alkyltransferase (MGMT), as an indicator of potential susceptibility. Cases with histologically proven colorectal adenomas (n = 38) were compared with referents (n = 35) free of gastrointestinal neoplasia. The case group consumed significantly more red meat (4.5 versus 3.4 servings/week, P < 0.05), processed meats, (4.7 versus 3.2 servings/week, P < 0.05) and % food energy as fat (34.9 versus 30.7%, P < 0.001). N7-MeG [mean: 95% confidence interval (CI)] levels were significantly lower in the group that consumed the highest proportion of dietary fibre/1000 kcal in comparison with the group with the lowest intake (0.61; 0.35-0.86 versus 1.88; 0.88-2.64 micromol/mol dG, P < 0.05). N7-MeG levels were also inversely associated with folate consumption (P < 0.05). MGMT activity (mean; 95% CI) was significantly higher in the group with the lowest consumption of vegetables than in the group with the greatest vegetable consumption (7.02; 5.70-8.33 versus 4.93; 3.95-5.91 fmol/microg DNA, P < 0.05). Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that dietary factors may modify exposure or susceptibility, respectively, to DNA damage by alkylating agents.
  • O6-Methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase inactivation and chemotherapy.

    Verbeek, Barbara; Southgate, Thomas D; Gilham, David E; Margison, Geoffrey P; Cancer Research UK Carcinogenesis Group, Paterson Institute for Cancer Research, University of Manchester, Wilmslow Road, Manchester M20 4BX, UK. (2008)
    INTRODUCTION: Alkylating agents are frequently used in the chemotherapy of many types of cancer. This group of drugs mediates cell death by damaging DNA and therefore, understandably, cellular DNA repair mechanisms can influence both their antitumour efficacy and their dose-limiting toxicities. SOURCES OF DATA: This review focuses on the mechanism of action of the DNA repair protein, O(6)-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) and its exploitation in cancer therapy and reviews the current literature. AREAS OF AGREEMENT: MGMT can provide resistance to alkylating agents by DNA damage reversal. Inhibition of tumour MGMT by pseudosubstrates to overcome tumour resistance is under clinical evaluation. In addition, MGMT overexpression in haematopoietic stem cells has been shown in animal models to protect normal cells against the myelosuppressive effects of chemotherapy: this strategy has also entered clinical trials. AREAS OF CONTROVERSY: MGMT inhibitors enhance the myelotoxic effect of O(6)-alkylating drugs and therefore reduce the maximum-tolerated dose of these agents. Retroviral vectors used for chemoprotective gene therapy are associated with insertional mutagenesis and leukaemia development. GROWING POINTS: The results of ongoing preclinical and clinical research involving various aspects of MGMT modulation should provide new prospects for the treatment of glioma, melanoma and other cancer types. AREAS TIMELY FOR DEVELOPING RESEARCH: Tissue- and tumour-specific approaches to the modulation of MGMT together with other DNA repair functions and in combination with immuno- or radiotherapy are promising strategies to improve alkylating agent therapy.
  • Reciprocal relationship between O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase P140K expression level and chemoprotection of hematopoietic stem cells.

    Milsom, Michael D; Jerabek-Willemsen, Moran; Harris, Chad E; Schambach, Axel; Broun, Emily; Bailey, J; Jansen, Michael; Schleimer, David; Nattamai, Kalpana; Wilhelm, Jamie; et al. (2008-08-01)
    Retroviral-mediated delivery of the P140K mutant O(6)-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT(P140K)) into hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) has been proposed as a means to protect against dose-limiting myelosuppressive toxicity ensuing from chemotherapy combining O(6)-alkylating agents (e.g., temozolomide) with pseudosubstrate inhibitors (such as O(6)-benzylguanine) of endogenous MGMT. Because detoxification of O(6)-alkylguanine adducts by MGMT is stoichiometric, it has been suggested that higher levels of MGMT will afford better protection to gene-modified HSC. However, accomplishing this goal would potentially be in conflict with current efforts in the gene therapy field, which aim to incorporate weaker enhancer elements to avoid insertional mutagenesis. Using a panel of self-inactivating gamma-retroviral vectors that express a range of MGMT(P140K) activity, we show that MGMT(P140K) expression by weaker cellular promoter/enhancers is sufficient for in vivo protection/selection following treatment with O(6)-benzylguanine/temozolomide. Conversely, the highest level of MGMT(P140K) activity did not promote efficient in vivo protection despite mediating detoxification of O(6)-alkylguanine adducts. Moreover, very high expression of MGMT(P140K) was associated with a competitive repopulation defect in HSC. Mechanistically, we show a defect in cellular proliferation associated with elevated expression of MGMT(P140K), but not wild-type MGMT. This proliferation defect correlated with increased localization of MGMT(P140K) to the nucleus/chromatin. These data show that very high expression of MGMT(P140K) has a deleterious effect on cellular proliferation, engraftment, and chemoprotection. These studies have direct translational relevance to ongoing clinical gene therapy studies using MGMT(P140K), whereas the novel mechanistic findings are relevant to the basic understanding of DNA repair by MGMT.
  • A phase II trial of lomeguatrib and temozolomide in metastatic colorectal cancer.

    Khan, O A; Ranson, Malcolm R; Michael, M; Olver, I; Levitt, N C; Mortimer, Peter; Watson, Amanda J; Margison, Geoffrey P; Midgley, R; Middleton, Mark R; et al. (2008-05-20)
    To evaluate the tumour response to lomeguatrib and temozolomide (TMZ) administered for 5 consecutive days every 4 weeks in patients with metastatic colorectal carcinoma. Patients with stage IV metastatic colorectal carcinoma received lomeguatrib (40 mg) and TMZ (50-200 mg m(-2)) orally for 5 consecutive days every 4 weeks. Response was determined every two cycles. Pharmacokinetics of lomeguatrib and TMZ as well as their pharmacodynamic effects in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were determined. Nineteen patients received 49 cycles of treatments. Despite consistent depletion of O(6)-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase in PBMC, none of the patients responded to treatment. Three patients had stable disease, one for the duration of the study, and no fall in carcinoembryonic antigen was observed in any patient. Median time to progression was 50 days. The commonest adverse effects were gastrointestinal and haematological and these were comparable to those of TMZ when given alone. This combination of lomeguatrib and TMZ is not efficacious in metastatic colorectal cancer. If further studies are to be performed, emerging data suggest that higher daily doses of lomeguatrib and a dosing period beyond that of TMZ should be evaluated.
  • Association between lung cancer risk and single nucleotide polymorphisms in the first intron and codon 178 of the DNA repair gene, O6-alkylguanine-DNA alkyltransferase.

    Crosbie, Philip A J; McGown, Gail; Thorncroft, Mary R; O'Donnell, Paul; Barber, Philip V; Lewis, Sarah J; Harrison, Kathryn L; Agius, Raymond M; Santibanez-Koref, Mauro F; Margison, Geoffrey P; et al. (2008-02-15)
    The association between lung cancer risk and 2 polymorphisms, rs12268840 and rs2308327 (codon K178R), in the DNA repair protein, O(6)-alkylguanine-DNA alkyltransferase, which are associated with interindividual differences in activity, have been investigated in 3 hospital-based case-control studies. Genotyping was carried out on 617 subjects of whom 255 had lung cancer. In 2 of the 3 series, there was a significant inverse association between the 178R allele and case status (p < 0.05). In a meta-analysis, the odds ratio (95% CI) associated with the 178R allele relative to the 178K allele was 0.64 (0.45-0.92, p = 0.01) and 0.51 (0.24-1.11, p = 0.09) in fixed effects and random effects models, respectively. In a pooled analysis, after adjustment for sex, age, pack years and series, the OR (95% CI) for a heterozygote was 0.67 (0.45-1.01) and for a 178R homozygote was 0.10 (0.01-0.94); the trend for a decreased risk with the number of R alleles was significant (p = 0.008). This trend was particularly pronounced in heavy smokers (trend test p = 0.003), but not significant in light smokers (p = 0.73). There was no evidence of an association between rs12268840 and lung cancer risk. These results suggest that the R allele may protect against lung cancer, specifically in heavy smokers, an effect that may result from this polymorphism affecting the function of the MGMT protein and/or levels in MGMT activity.