It has been proposed that fluoropyrimidine-mediated cytotoxicity and radiosensitization are closely correlated. We have shown that HT29 human colon cancer cells transfected with the E. coli dUTPase gene are resistant to 5-fluorodeoxyuridine (FdUrd)-mediated cytotoxicity, presumably through more effective elimination of dUTP. We used these cells to assess the association between radiosensitization and cytotoxicity produced by FdUrd. The radiation sensitivities of the clones expressing elevated dUTPase activity (dutE clones) were similar to those of untransfected HT29 cells or HT29 cells which had been transfected with only the expression vector for the E. coli gene (con clones). We found that FdUrd produced similar increases in radiation sensitivity regardless of dUTPase activity. Levels of dUTPase in the dutE clones remained elevated during the entire period of FdUrd exposure, demonstrating that the lack of difference between dutE and Con clones was not a reflection of down-regulation of dUTPase activity by FdUrd. Flow cytometry showed that all clones progressed past the G1/ S-phase boundary and into early S phase during FdUrd treatment. These data suggest that the mechanisms of FdUrd-mediated cytotoxicity and radiosensitization are not closely linked. These findings, combined with our previous investigations, are consistent with the hypothesis that radiosensitization occurs in cells which progress past the G1/ S-phase boundary in the presence of FdUrd.

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