To investigate the mechanism of the generation of immunogenic tumor variants by mutagenic drugs, murine leukemia cells exhibiting different sensitivity to killing by the alkylator 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea (BCNU) and different ability to repair O6-methylguanine in their DNA were treated in vitro with a series of methylating agents, including triazene derivatives, temozolomide, and streptozotocin. At the population level, we found that BCNU-resistant cells (L1210/BCNU) that appeared to be cross-resistant to killing by a dimethyltriazene and expressed high levels of O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase activity (mer+ phenotype) failed to generate highly immunogenic variant sublines on repeated exposure to the methylating agents. In contrast, all cells (L1210) that were susceptible to DNA alkylation damage and deficient in O6-methylguanine repair (mer-) developed immunogenic variant sublines. A noticeable exception was represented by streptozotocin treatment, which was equally effective in mer+ and mer- cells. At the clonal level, a single exposure to streptozotocin or a triazene derivative resulted in a high incidence (33% and 50%, respectively) of immunogenic cell generation in mer- cells only. In mer+ cells, streptozotocin treatment led to a 33% incidence of immunogenic clones only when the cells were concurrently exposed to O6-methylguanine as a free base. The activity of O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase in mer+ cells was greatly reduced by treatment with O6-methylguanine or streptozotocin, and the combination of the two drugs led to enzyme levels similar to those observed in mer- cells. Taken together, these data suggest that the mechanism of O6-alkylation may be operative in the induction of novel tumor-cell antigenicity by methylating agents.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research