We showed that the efficacy of the new 2′-deoxycytidine (2′-dCyd) analogue antimetabolite 2′-deoxy-2′-methylidenecytidine (DMDC) correlates well with tumor levels of cytidine (Cyd) deaminase in human cancer xenograft models. DMDC was highly effective in tumors with higher levels of Cyd deaminase, whereas lower levels yielded only slight activity. In contrast, gemcitabine (2′,2′-difluorodeoxycytidine), which has action mechanisms similar to those of DMDC, is only slightly active in tumors with higher levels of the enzyme. In the present study, we investigated the roles of Cyd deaminase in the antitumor activity of the two 2′-dCyd antimetabolites in 13 human cancer cell lines. Tetrahydrouridine, an inhibitor of Cyd deaminase, reduced the antiproliferative activity of DMDC (P = 0.0015). Furthermore, tumor cells transfected with the gene of human Cyd deaminase become more susceptible to DMDC both in vitro and in vivo. These results indicate that Cyd deaminase is indeed essential for the activity of DMDC. In contrast, the antiproliferative activity of gemcitabine was increased to some extent by tetrahydrouridine (P = 0.0277), particularly in tumor cell lines with higher levels of Cyd deaminase. This suggests that higher levels of Cyd deaminase may inactivate gemcitabine. Among nucleosides and deoxynucleosides tested, only dCyd, a natural substrate of both Cyd deaminase and dCyd kinase, suppressed the antiproliferative activity of DMDC by up to 150-fold. Because the VmaxKm of DMDC for dCyd kinase was 8-fold lower than that for dCyd, the activation of DMDC to DMDC monophosphate (DMDCMP) by dCyd kinase might be competitively inhibited by dCyd. In addition, the dCyd concentrations in human cancer xenografts were inversely correlated with levels of Cyd deaminase activity. It is therefore suggested that higher levels of Cyd deaminase reduce the intrinsic cellular concentrations of dCyd in tumors, resulting in efficient activation of DMDC to DMDCMP by dCyd kinase. These results indicate that the efficacy of DMDC may be predicted by measuring the activity of Cyd deaminase in tumor tissues before treatment starts and that DMDC may be exploited in a new treatment modality: tumor enzyme-driven cancer chemotherapy.

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