The polyamine spermine and the disulfide N, N-(dithiodi-2, 1-ethanediyl)bis-1, 3-propanediamine (WR-33278) are structurally similar agents capable of binding to DNA. WR-33278 is the disulfide moiety of the clinically studied radioprotective agent S-2-(3-aminopropylamino)ethylphosphorothioic acid (WR-2721). Because of their reported structural and functional similarities, it was of interest to compare their effects on cell survival and mutation induction at the hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyl transferase (hprt) locus in Chinese hamster AA8 cells. WR-33278 and spermine (at concentrations of 0.01 and 0.001 mM) were electroporated into cells. Electroporation, 300 V and 125 F, was performed either 30 min prior to or 3 h following exposure of cells to 750 cGy of ionizing radiation. Electroporation alone reduced cell survival to 75% but had no effect on hprt mutation frequency. The electroporation of either spermine or WR-33278 at concentrations greater than 0.01 mM was extremely toxic. The exposure of cells to both electroporation and irradiation gave rise to enhanced cell killing and mutation induction, with the sequence of irradiation followed 3 h later by electroporation being the more toxic protocol. Cell survival was only enhanced following electroporation of 0.01 mM of spermine and WR-33278 30 min prior to irradiation. Protection against radiation-induced hprt mutations was observed for both spermine and WR-33278 under all experimental conditions tested. Spermine at exposure concentrations of 0.01 and 0.001 mM administered 30 min before or 3 h after irradiation reduced mutation frequencies by factors of 2.2, 1.2, 1.9 and 2.2, respectively. WR-33278 at concentrations of 0.01 and 0.001 mM administered 30 min or 3 h after irradiation with 750 cGy lowered mutation frequencies by factors of 1.8, 1.3, 1.4 and 2.0, respectively. These data suggest that the properties of radioprotection and chemoprevention exhibited by the phosphorothioate (WR-2721) and associated aminothiol (WR-1065) and disulfide (WR-33278) metabolites may be mediated in part via endogenous sperminelike polyamine processes (i.e. chromatin stabilization). Such a mechanism would have important implications with respect to the design and development of new generation drugs for use in radioprotection and chemoprevention.
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