Mechanisms of resistance to topoisomerase I-targeting drugs

Zeshaan A. Rasheed, Eric H. Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


DNA topoisomerases are a class of enzymes that alter the topology of DNA and are targets of several anticancer drugs. Camptothecins (CPTs) are a relatively new family of compounds that specifically target topoisomerase I (Top1). These compounds 'poison' Top1 by binding to the Top1-DNA complex in a manner that prevents the religation of DNA. Topotecan and irinotecan are two CPTs that are approved for the treatment of a variety of malignancies, including colorectal, ovarian, and small cell lung cancers, as well as myeloid malignancies. Although CPTs have proven to be effective anticancer drugs, resistance is still a critical clinical problem. The mechanisms underlying de novo and acquired clinical resistance to CPTs and the newer classes of Top1 poisons are unclear. However, based on preclinical studies, it is likely that clinical resistance to these drugs is the result of: (1) inadequate accumulation of drug in the tumor, (2) resistance-conferring alterations in Top1, or (3) alterations in the cellular response to the Top1-CPT interaction. This review will focus on the current knowledge regarding mechanisms of resistance to CPTs and other Top1-targeting drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7296-7304
Number of pages9
Issue number47
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Camptothecin
  • Drug resistance
  • Irinotecan
  • Topoisomerase I
  • Topotecan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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