Interference of transcriptional activation by the antineoplastic drug ecteinascidin-743

Mario Minuzzo, Sergio Marchini, Massimo Broggini, Glynn Faircloth, Maurizio D'Incalci, Roberto Mantovani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ecteinascidin-743 (ET-743) is a tetrahydroisoquinoline alkaloid isolated from the tunicate Ecteinascidia turbinata currently under phase II clinical trials for its potent anticancer activity. ET-743 binds DNA in the minor groove and forms covalent adducts with some sequence specificity. It selectively inhibits in vitro binding of the CCAAT box factor NF-Y. In this study, we assayed ET-743 function in vivo on the HSP70 promoter. On heat induction, the drug blocks transcription rapidly at pharmacological concentrations and in a CCAAT-dependent manner, whereas the activity of the CCAAT-less simian virus 40 promoter is not affected. The effect is exerted at the mRNA level. The distamycin-like alkylating tallimustine is inactive in these assays. Binding of NF-Y and of the heat-shock factor is normal in ET- 743-treated cells. Run-on analysis of several endogenous genes further proves that the drug has rapid, profound, and selective negative effects on transcription. Thus, this marine-derived compound is a promoter-specific, transcription-interfering agent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6780-6784
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 6 2000


  • DNA binding
  • Drug
  • Transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Interference of transcriptional activation by the antineoplastic drug ecteinascidin-743'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this