Biochemical consequences of resistance to a recently discovered IMP dehydrogenase inhibitor, Benzamide Riboside, in human myelogenous leukemia K562 cells

H. N. Jayaram, A. O'Connor, M. R. Grant, H. Yang, P. A. Grieco, D. A. Cooney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Benzamide riboside (BR) exhibits potent antitumor activity in a variety of cultured human tumor cells. The drug is metabolized to benzamide adenine dinucleotide (BAD), which in turn functions as a selective inhibitor of IMP dehydrogenase (IMPDH) activity with a Ki of 0.118 μm. In vitro, BR is a more potent anti-tumor inhibitor of IMPDH than tiazofurin, another IMPDH inhibitor which has shown significant oncolytic activity in adult patients with end-stage leukemia. To elucidate the mechanism of resistance, a variant of human myelogenous leukemia K562 cells was developed by subculturing sensitive cells in sublethal concentrations of BR over 60 generations. The BR resistant line that emerged exhibited an IC50 (a concentration producing 50% reduction in cell proliferation) of 148 μm, compared to the sensitive line which had an IC50 of 1.6 μm. The activity of the target enzyme, IMPDH, was increased 3-fold in the resistant variant. Studies on BR metabolism revealed that resistant cells formed only 18% of the active metabolite, BAD, compared to sensitive cells. This finding, in turn, correlated with the specific activity of NAD pyrophosphorylase (the enzyme responsible for the synthesis of BAD) which was reduced to undetectable levels in the resistant variant. The basal levels of NAD and guanylates were also significantly decreased to 41% and 48%, respectively, in the resistant line compared to the parent line. Additionally, after treatment with BR a decrease in guanylate level was observed only in the sensitive cells. Sensitive and resistant cells exhibit comparable cytotoxicity to agents outside the tiazofurin family, suggesting that a multidrug resistance was unlikely to explain the resistance to BR. Moreover, BR resistant cells exhibit collatoral sensitivity to 6-aminopurine, cytarabine and 5-fluorouracil, which have different mechanisms of action. In conclusion, these studies establish that the primary mechanism of resistance to BR involves an increase in IMPDH (target enzyme) activity with a concurrent decrease in NAD pyrophosphorylase (BAD synthetic enzyme) activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-285
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Therapeutics and Oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 1996


  • Benzamide riboside
  • Biochemical mechanisms of resistance
  • Drug resistance
  • Human myelogenous leukemia K562 cells
  • IMP dehydrogenase inhibitor
  • NAD analogue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research

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