Dimethylthiourea inhibition of b16 melanoma growth and induction of phenotypic alterations; relationship to atp levels

A. Fux, Y. Sidi, G. Kessler-Icekson, L. Wasserman, A. Novogrodsky, J. Nordenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


1, 3 Dimethylthiourea (DMTU) has previously been shown by us to inhibit the growth of melanoma cells and to induce phenotypic alterations in these cells, including ultrastructural alterations of mitochondria. These findings raised the possibility that impaired mitochondrial function might be involved in mediating the effect of DMTU on cell growth and phenotypic expression. The present study indicates that DMTU as well as another growth inhibitory methylurea derivative, tetramethylurea (TMU) significantly decrease ATP content in the B16 melanoma cell line. 1, 3 Dimethylurea (1, 3DMU) and 1, 1 dimethylurea (1, 1DMU) which are poor growth inhibitors, do not reduce ATP content significantly. Altered energy metabolism in the DMTU-treated cells is reflected by inhibition of the activity of cytochrome c oxidase and by increased lactate levels. A cell line selected for resistance to growth inhibition by DMTU was shown to be completely resistant to induction of phenotypic alterations by DMTU. These cells possess high lactate levels, high ATP content and a somewhat decreased Na/K atpase activity as compared to wild type B16 FIO cells. 1, 3 DMTU treatment of the resistant cells leads to a decrease in the activity of the mitochondrial enzyme cytochrome c oxidase, similar to its effect on the wild type B16 F10 cells. DMTU also reduces ATP content moderately in the resistant cells. However, the levels of ATP do not decrease beyond those found in untreated B16 F10 wild type cells. Taken together the results suggest that decreased ATP content might be involved, at least partially, in mediating the effects of DMTU on B16 melanoma cell growth and phenotypic expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-494
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1991
Externally publishedYes


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