ET-743: More than an innovative mechanism of action

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Ecteinascidin-743 (ET-743), an anti-tumor agent derived from the marine tunicate, Ecteinascidia turbinata, is active against various solid tumor cell lines, including soft tissue sarcoma, breast, ovarian, non-small-cell lung and prostate cancers and melanoma, and has a broad spectrum of anti-cancer activity in vivo. For reasons as yet unclear, sarcoma cell lines are exquisitely sensitive to ET-743. The drug has a unique mechanism of action that makes it a novel anti-tumor agent. ET-743 is a DNA-binding agent that covalently interacts with the minor groove of the DNA double helix to bend the molecule towards the major groove. Defects in DNA repair pathways have paradoxical effects on the anti-tumor activity of ET-743: loss of mismatch repair does not affect its toxicity; loss of DNA-dependent protein kinase activity enhances its toxicity; defects in transcription-coupled nucleotide excision repair confer resistance to ET-743. As a DNA repair capability appears to be necessary for at least one mechanism of ET-743-mediated cytotoxicity, the drug may interact with the DNA repair machinery to induce lethal strand breaks. One of the most novel aspects of ET-743 is its effect on RNA polymerase II-mediated gene transcription. ET-743 selectively inhibits activation of the multidrug resistance gene, while leaving constitutive gene expression relatively unaffected. Preliminary studies of other genes and transcriptional inducers indicate that ET-743 may be a more general inhibitor of activated, but not basal, transcription.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S3-S6
JournalAnti-Cancer Drugs
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Cancer Research


  • Anti-tumor agents
  • DNA repair
  • Ecteinascidin-743
  • Minor groove binders
  • Natural products
  • Transcriptional control


Dive into the research topics of 'ET-743: More than an innovative mechanism of action'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this