Interaction of anthracyclines with iron responsive element mRNAs

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Abstract

Double-stranded sections of mRNA are often inviting sites of interaction for a wide variety of proteins and small molecules. Interactions at these sites can serve to regulate, or disrupt, the homeostasis of the encoded protein products. Such ligand target sites exist as hairpin–loop structures in the mRNAs of several of the proteins involved in iron homeostasis, including ferritin heavy and light chains, and are known as iron responsive elements (IREs). These IREs serve as the main control mechanism for iron metabolism in the cell via their interaction with the iron regulatory proteins (IRPs). Disruption of the IRE/IRP interaction could greatly affect iron metabolism. Here, we report that anthracyclines, a class of clinically useful chemotherapeutic drugs that includes doxorubicin and daunorubicin, specifically interact with the IREs of ferritin heavy and light chains. We characterized this interaction through UV melting, fluorescence quenching and drug–RNA footprinting. Results from footprinting experiments with wild-type and mutant IREs indicate that anthracyclines preferentially bind within the UG wobble pairs flanking an asymmetrically bulged C-residue, a conserved base that is essential for IRE–IRP interaction. Additionally, drug–RNA affinities (apparent Kds) in the high nanomolar range were calculated from fluorescence quenching experiments, while UV melting studies revealed shifts in melting temperature (ΔTm) as large as 10°C. This anthracycline–IRE interaction may contribute to the aberration of intracellular iron homeostasis that results from anthracycline exposure.

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