Investigation of the mechanism of repression of rRNA synthesis by an anticancer drug

William John Andrews

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Ribosome biogenesis is a fundamental cellular process which is tightly regulated in normal cells. A number of tumour suppressors and oncogenes could affect the production of ribosomes at different levels and an upregulation could lead to increased protein biosynthesis which is one of the characteristic features of all cancer cells. Ribosome biogenesis is a very complex process which requires coordinated transcription by all three nucleolar polymerases and the first event in this process is synthesis of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) by RNA Polymerase I (Pol I). Importantly, recent data has pictured rRNA transcription as a key regulator of whole ribosome biogenesis and therefore makes it a valid and very attractive target for anticancer therapy, as well as a perspective biomarker. However, at the moment there is only one known specific inhibitor of Pol I transcription (at stage one of clinical trials) and this makes it very difficult for the development of drugs which would target rRNA transcription and consequently ribosome biogenesis. We have recently discovered that antitumor alkaloid ellipticine (isolated in 1959 from the plant species Ochrosia) is a potent inhibitor of Pol I transcription (both in vitro and in vivo). Ellipticine and its derivatives are known as efficient topoisomerase II inhibitors and inhibitors of some kinases, however we have shown that these inhibitory activities and the ability of ellipticine to repress Pol I activity are unrelated. Moreover, our preliminary data suggests that ellipticine specifically targets Pol I transcription and it has no effect on transcription by Pol II and Pol III at the same time scale. The possible mechanisms of inhibition of Pol I transcription by ellipticines will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2010
EventIrish Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2010 - Galway, Ireland
Duration: 04 Mar 2010 → …


ConferenceIrish Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2010
Period04/03/2010 → …


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