B16-BL6 murine melanoma cells were selected for cytogenetic evaluation during the stepwise development of increasing resistance in vitro to the antitumor antibiotic, doxorubicin (DOX). Karyotypic studies demonstrated extensive heteroploidy with both numerical and structural abnormalities which were not present in the parental DOX-sensitive B16-BL6 cells. Trypsin-Giemsa banding revealed the presence of several marker chromosomes containing abnormally banding regions (ABRs) in the 44-fold B16-BL6 DOX-resistant subline. These ABRs appeared to be more homogeneously staining at the higher DOX concentrations. Length measurements (ABR index) in seven banded metaphases indicated a direct correlation with increasing DOX concentration. When the DOX-resistant cells were grown in drug-free medium for 1 yr, the drug-resistant phenotype gradually declined in parallel with the level of resistance and the ABR index. DOX-induced cytogenetic damage examined by sister chromatid exchange methodology in parental B16-BL6 cells indicated a linear sister chromatid exchange:DOX dose-response relationship. However, after continuous treatment of parental B16-BL6 cells with DOX (0.01 µg/ml) for 30 days, sister chromatid exchange scores were found to return to base-line values. The B16-BL6 resistant cells demonstrated a cross-resistant phenotype with N-trifluoroacetyladriamycin-14-valerate, actinomycin D, and the Vinca alkaloids but not with 1-β-d-arabinofuranosylcytosine. The results suggest that ABR-containing chromosomes in DOX-resistant sublines may represent cytogenetic alterations of specific amplified genes involved in the expression of DOX resistance. Further studies are required to identify and define the possible gene products and to correlate their relationship to the cytotoxic action of doxorubicin.

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This work was in part supported by USPHS Grant 1R01 CA35531 awarded by the National Cancer Institute, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Cleveland Foundation.

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