Reduction of 2,5-diaziridinyl-3,6-bis(carboethoxyamino)-1,4-benzoquinone (diaziquone; AZQ) by purified rat hepatic DT-diaphorase was NADH and enzyme dependent and was inhibited by prior boiling of the enzyme or by dicumarol. Under aerobic conditions some of the hydroquinone (AZQH2) formed by reduction oxidized to regenerate AZQ and an approximate 1:1 stoichiometry was observed between AZQH2 reoxidized and oxygen consumed. The steady state kinetics of AZQ reduction were consistent with a ping-pong mechanism and a high Km for AZQ. There was no evidence for saturation in the range of 25–200 µm AZQ at 200 µm NADH. AZQ (0–20 µm) induced dicumarol-inhibitable DNA interstrand cross-linking and cytotoxicity in HT-29 human colon carcinoma cells which have high DT-diaphorase activity but not in BE cells which have low DT-diaphorase activity. Extensive metabolism (>90%) of AZQ (100 µm) in HT-29 cytosol occurred, which was either NADH or NADPH dependent and could be inhibited by dicumarol. Little metabolism of AZQ could be detected in BE cell cytosols. DT-diaphorase was purified from HT-29 cells and metabolism of AZQ by this enzyme was confirmed. These data show that AZQ can be metabolized by purified rat hepatic and human HT-29 DT-diaphorase and suggest that in HT-29 cells, DT-diaphorase catalyzed reduction of AZQ represents a bioactivation process leading to the production of genotoxic and cytotoxic metabolites.

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Supported by Grant R01 CA 51210 from the National Cancer Institute. Parts of this work have been presented in abstract and preliminary form at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, San Francisco, CA, 1989 (55) and the European Society for Free Radical Research, Summer Meeting on Bioreductive Activation of Quinoid Compounds, Stockholm, Sweden, June 1989 (56).

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