Metabolic activation of mitomycin C by liver microsomes and nuclei

Katherine A. Kennedy, Stephen G. Sligar, Lydia Polomski, Alan C. Sartorelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bioreductive alkylating agents require reductive activation prior to exerting their cytotoxic actions. This property results in preferential toxicity to hypoxic cells. Previous data have demonstrated that mitomycin C is activated by hypoxic tumor cells and is selectively cytotoxic to these oxygen-deficient cells. The biotransformation of mitomycin C was studied in liver microsomes and nuclei and in a reconstituted, partially purified cytochrome P-450 drug-metabolizing system to provide information on these reductive processes. Both the metabolism of mitomycin C, measured by disappearance of the quinone portion of the substrate, and the formation of an alkylating metabolite(s), determined by employing 4-(p-nitrobenzyl)pyridine as a trapping agent, required anaerobic conditions and an NADPH-generating system, and were inhibited by O2 and CO in both microsomes and nuclei. A reconstituted enzyme system consisting of NADPH, NADPH-cytochrome P-450 reductase, phospholipid and cytochrome P-450 converted mitomycin C to a reactive metabolite(s) under hypoxic conditions. Omission of N2 or any component of the system decreased the metabolic activation of mitomycin C. These findings support the concept that the cytochrome P-450 system is capable of activating mitomycin C under hypoxic conditions to the alkylating metabolite(s) that is responsible for antineoplastic activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2011-2016
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology


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