Pederine, a drug extracted from the coleopter Paederus fuscipes, inhibits the growth of in vitro cultured cell lines at concentrations of the order of 1.5 nanogram/ml. Cytological examination shows a generalized cytotoxic effect. Analysis of macromolecular syntheses by the use of radioactive precursors shows that pederine causes an almost immediate block of protein and DNA synthesis, without affecting RNA synthesis. The effects on the synthesis of the two types of macromolecules remain nearly simultaneous even at the lowest active concentrations of pederine. Studies with cell-free systems show that the drug inhibits protein synthesis, whereas it is ineffective on the DNA-polymerizing activity. It seems, therefore, that the drug acts primarily on the amino acid-polymerizing system, and that the effect on DNA is secondary. This idea is strengthened by the observation that puromycin, a specific inhibitor of protein synthesis, also affects promptly DNA synthesis of in vitro cultured cells. Other authors have shown the same phenomenon with a number of inhibitors of protein synthesis; the properties of pederine support, therefore, the view that continuous protein synthesis is necessary for the maintenance of DNA replication in higher organisms.

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