RNA cleavage and inhibition of protein synthesis by Bleomycin

Anil T. Abraham, Jih Jing Lin, Dianne L. Newton, Susanna Rybak, Sidney M. Hecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Bleomycin is a clinically used antitumor antibiotic long thought to function therapeutically at the level of DNA cleavage. Recently, it has become clear that bleomycin can also cleave selected members of all major classes of RNA. Using the computer program COMPARE to search the database established by the Anticancer Drug Screening Program of the National Cancer Institute, a possible mechanism-based correlation was found between onconase, an antitumor ribonuclease currently being evaluated in phase III clinical trials, and the chemotherapeutic agent bleomycin. Following these observations, experimentation revealed that bleomycin caused tRNA cleavage and DNA-independent protein synthesis inhibition in rabbit reticulocyte lysate and when microinjected into Xenopus oocytes. The correlation of protein synthesis inhibition to the previously reported site-specific RNA cleavage caused by bleomycin supports the thesis that RNA cleavage may constitute an important element of the mechanism of action of bleomycin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-52
Number of pages8
JournalChemistry and Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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