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Cytokinins and cytokinin nucleosides are purine derivatives with potential anticancer activity. N6-furfuryladenosine (FAdo, kinetin-riboside) displays anti-proliferative and apoptogenic activity against various human cancer cell lines, and FAdo has recently been shown to suppress tumor growth in murine xenograft models of human leukemia and melanoma. In this study, FAdo-induced genotoxicity, stress response gene expression, and cellular ATP depletion were examined as early molecular consequences of FAdo exposure in MiaPaCa-2 pancreas carcinoma, A375 melanoma, and other human cancer cell lines. FAdo, but not adenosine or N6-furfuryladenine (FA), displayed potent anti-proliferative activity that was also observed in human primary fibroblasts and keratinocytes. Remarkably, massive ATP depletion and induction of genotoxic stress as assessed by the alkaline comet assay occurred within 60-180 min of exposure to low micromolar concentrations of FAdo. This was followed by rapid upregulation of CDKN1A and other DNA damage/stress response genes (HMOX1, DDIT3, and GADD45A) as revealed by expression array and Western analysis. Pharmacological and siRNA-based genetic inhibition of adenosine kinase (ADK) suppressed FAdo cytotoxicity and also prevented ATP depletion and p21 upregulation suggesting the importance of bioconversion of FAdo into the nucleotide form required for drug action. Taken together our data suggest that early induction of genotoxicity and energy crisis are important causative factors involved in FAdo cytotoxicity.