A rapid and convenient method has been developed to monitor the inhibition of inosinate (IMP) dehydrogenase by antimetabolites in intact human CEM lymphocytes. This method is based on the determination of 3H release from [2,8-3H]hypoxanthine ([2,8-3H]Hx) or [2,8-3H]inosine ([2,8-3H]Ino). The validity of this procedure was assessed by evaluating IMP dehydrogenase inhibition in intact CEM cells by the well-known IMP dehydrogenase inhibitors ribavirin, mycophenolic acid and tiazofurin. As reference materials, several compounds that are targeted at other enzymes in de novo purine nucleotide anabolism (i.e. hadacidine, acivicin) or catabolism (i.e. 8-aminoguanosine, allopurinol) were evaluated. There was a strong correlation between the inhibitory effects of the IMP dehydrogenase inhibitors (ribavirin, mycophenolic acid, tiazofurin) on 3H release from [2,8-3H]Hx and [2,8-3H]Ino in intact CEM cells and their ability to decrease intracellular GTP pool levels. The other compounds (hadacidine, acivicin, 8-aminoguanosine, allopurinol) had no marked effect on 3H release from [2,8-3H]Hx. Using this method, we demonstrated that the novel ribavirin analogue, 5-ethynyl-1-beta-D-ribofuranosylimidazole-4-carboxamide, is a potent inhibitor of IMP dehydrogenase in intact cells.

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