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1.  17AAG and MEK1/2 inhibitors kill GI tumor cells via Ca2+-dependent suppression of GRP78/BiP and induction of ceramide and ROS 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(5):1378-1395.
The present studies determined in greater detail the molecular mechanisms upstream of the CD95 death receptor by which geldanamycin HSP90 inhibitors and MEK1/2 inhibitors interact to kill carcinoma cells. MEK1/2 inhibition enhanced 17AAG toxicity that was suppressed in cells deleted for mutant active RAS which were non-tumorigenic but was magnified in isogenic tumorigenic cells expressing H-RAS V12 or K-RAS D13. MEK1/2 inhibitor and 17AAG treatment increased intracellular Ca2+ levels and reduced GRP78/BiP expression in a Ca2+ -dependent manner. GRP78/BiP over-expression, however, also suppressed drug-induced intracellular Ca2+ levels. MEK1/2 inhibitor and 17AAG treatment increased ROS levels that were blocked by quenching Ca2+ or over-expression of GRP78/BiP. MEK1/2 inhibitor and 17AAG treatment activated CD95 and inhibition of ceramide synthesis; ROS or Ca2+ quenching blocked CD95 activation. In SW620 cells that are patient matched to SW480 cells, MEK1/2 inhibitor and 17AAG toxicity was significantly reduced that correlated with a lack of CD95 activation and lower expression of ceramide synthase 6 (LASS6). Over-expression of LASS6 in SW620 cells enhanced drug-induced CD95 activation and enhanced tumor cell killing. Inhibition of ceramide signaling abolished drug-induced ROS generation but not drug-induced cytosolic Ca2+ levels. Thus treatment of tumor cells with MEK1/2 inhibitor and 17AAG induces cytosolic Ca2+ and loss of GRP78/BiP function, leading to de novo ceramide synthesis pathway activation that plays a key role in ROS generation and CD95 activation.
PMCID: PMC2868106  PMID: 20442308
Geldanamycin; 17AAG; MEK1/2 inhibitor; CD95; c-FLIP-s; GRP78/BiP; autophagy; cell death; ASMase; de novo
2.  Simultaneous exposure of transformed cells to SRC family inhibitors and CHK1 inhibitors causes cell death 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2011;12(3):215-228.
The present studies were initiated to determine in greater molecular detail the regulation of CHK1 inhibitor lethality in transfected and infected breast cancer cells and using genetic models of transformed fibrobalsts. Multiple MEK1/2 inhibitors (PD184352, AZD6244 [ARRY-142886]) interacted with multiple CHK1 inhibitors (UCN-01 [7-hydroxystaurosporine], AZD7762) to kill mammary carcinoma cells and transformed fibroblasts. In transformed cells, CHK1 inhibitor-induced activation of ERK1/2 was dependent upon activation of SRC family non-receptor tyrosine kinases as judged by use of multiple SRC kinase inhibitors (PP 2, Dasatinib; AZD0530), use of SRC/FYN/YES deleted transformed fibroblasts or by expression of dominant negative SRC. Cell killing by SRC family kinase inhibitors and CHK1 inhibitors was abolished in BAX/BAK−/− transformed fibroblasts and suppressed by overexpression of BCL-XL. Treatment of cells with BCL-2/BCL-XL antagonists promoted SRC inhibitor + CHK1 inhibitor-induced lethality in a BAX/BAK-dependent fashion. Treatment of cells with [SRC + CHK1] inhibitors radio-sensitized tumor cells. These findings argue that multiple inhibitors of the SRC-RAS-MEK pathway interact with multiple CHK1 inhibitors to kill transformed cells.
PMCID: PMC3230482  PMID: 21642769
CHK1; SRC; apoptosis; breast cancer; kinase; therapeutics; intrinsic; caspase
3.  MEK inhibition induced downregulation of MRP1 and MRP3 expression in experimental hepatocellular carcinoma 
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) exhibits strong intrinsic and acquired drug resistance which is the main obstacle to chemotherapy. Overexpression of ATP binding cassette (ABC) proteins correlates with activation of mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway in HCC. Here, we systematically investigated the inhibition of MAPK pathway and its role in regulating HCC cell growth as well as ABC proteins MRP1 and MRP3 expression.
The Raf1 kinase inhibitor (GW5074) and different MEK inhibitors (U0126 and AZD6244) were used to treat HCC cells to identify their effects on HCC cell growth and ABC proteins expression in vitro. Cell viability tests were performed after the treatment of MAPK pathway inhibitors and in combination with gemcitabine or doxorubicin. Western blot was applied to assess the changes of MAPK pathway and protein expression of MRP1 and MRP3. Flow cytometry was used to measure intracellular doxorubicin accumulation after the treatment of MEK inhibitors.
Both Raf1 inhibitor (GW5074) and MEK inhibitors (U0126 and AZD6244) suppressed HCC cell growth in a dose dependent manner. Pre-treatment of MEK inhibitor U0126 or AZD6244 sensitized HCC cells to gemcitabine or doxorubicin based chemotherapy. Raf1 inhibitor GW5074 had no effect on MRP1 and MRP3 protein expression. Treatment of gemcitabine or doxorubicin activated phosphorylated ERK and induced the upregulation of MRP1 and MRP3. MEK inhibitors U0126 and AZD6244 deactivated phosphorylated ERK, decreased endogenous MRP1 expression, reversed gemcitabine or doxorubicin induced MRP1 and MRP3 upregulation, and increased the intracellular doxorubicin accumulation.
This study provides evidence that MEK inhibitors sensitize HCC cells to chemotherapy by increasing intracellular chemodrug accumulation. MEK inhibirors U0126 and AZD6244 reduced MRP1 as well as MRP3 expression, and may contribute partially to the sensitization. The combination of MEK inhibitor and conventional chemotherapy may offer new therapeutic option for the treatment of resistant HCC.
PMCID: PMC3558388  PMID: 23320839
Hepatocellular carcinoma; MEK; MRP1; MRP3; Multidrug resistance
4.  Enhancing CHK1 inhibitor lethality in glioblastoma 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2012;13(6):379-388.
The present studies were initiated to determine whether inhibitors of MEK1/2 or SRC signaling, respectively, enhance CHK1 inhibitor lethality in primary human glioblastoma cells. Multiple MEK1/2 inhibitors (CI-1040 (PD184352); AZD6244 (ARRY-142886)) interacted with multiple CHK1 inhibitors (UCN-01, AZD7762) to kill multiple primary human glioma cell isolates that have a diverse set of genetic alterations typically found in the disease. Inhibition of SRC family proteins also enhanced CHK1 inhibitor lethality. Combined treatment of glioma cells with (MEK1/2 + CHK1) inhibitors enhanced radiosensitivity. Combined (MEK1/2 + CHK1) inhibitor treatment led to dephosphorylation of ERK1/2 and S6 ribosomal protein, whereas the phosphorylation of JNK and p38 was increased. MEK1/2 + CHK1 inhibitor-stimulated cell death was associated with the cleavage of pro-caspases 3 and 7 as well as the caspase substrate (PARP). We also observed activation of pro-apoptotic BCL-2 effector proteins BAK and BAX and reduced levels of pro-survival BCL-2 family protein BCL-XL. Overexpression of BCL-XL alleviated but did not completely abolish MEK1/2 + CHK1 inhibitor cytotoxicity in GBM cells. These findings argue that multiple inhibitors of the SRC-MEK pathway have the potential to interact with multiple CHK1 inhibitors to kill glioma cells.
PMCID: PMC3341214  PMID: 22313687
Apoptosis; CHK 1 inhibitor; glioma; MEK1/2 inhibitors
5.  Combination of MEK and SRC inhibition suppresses melanoma cell growth and invasion 
Oncogene  2012;32(1):86-96.
The RAS-RAF-MEK-ERK pathway is deregulated in over 90% of malignant melanomas and targeting MEK as central kinase of this pathway is currently tested in clinical trials. However, dose-limiting side effects are observed, and MEK inhibitors that sufficiently reduce ERK activation in patients show a low clinical response. Apart from dose-limitations, a reason for the low response to MEK targeting drugs is thought to be the up-regulation of counteracting signalling cascades as a direct response to MEK inhibition. Therefore, understanding the biology of melanoma cells and the effects of MEK inhibition on these cells will help to identify new combinatorial approaches that are more potent and allow for lower concentrations of drug being used. We have discovered that in melanoma cells MEK inhibition by selumetinib (AZD6244, ARRY-142886) or PD184352 while efficiently suppressing proliferation stimulates increased invasiveness. Inhibition of MEK suppresses actin-cortex contraction and increases integrin-mediated adhesion. Most importantly, and surprisingly MEK inhibition results in a significant increase in MMP-2 and MT1-MMP expression. All together MEK inhibition in melanoma cells induces a ‘mesenchymal’ phenotype that is characterised by protease driven invasion. This mode of invasion is dependent on integrin-mediated adhesion, and because SRC kinases are main regulators of this process, the SRC kinase inhibitor saracatinib (AZD0530) completely abolished the MEK inhibitor induced invasion. Moreover, the combination of saracatinib and selumetinib effectively suppressed the growth and invasion of melanoma cells in a 3D environment, suggesting that combined inhibition of MEK and SRC is a promising approach to improve the efficacy of targeting the ERK/MAP kinase pathway in melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3378628  PMID: 22310287
melanoma; MEK; SRC; MMP-2; invasion; combination therapy
6.  High level of AKT activity is associated with resistance to MEK inhibitor AZD6244 (ARRY-142886) 
Cancer biology & therapy  2009;8(21):2073-2080.
MEK/ERK activities are increased in many primary lung cancers, and MEK inhibitors have been tested clinically for treatment of non-small cell lung cancers. The molecular mechanisms of resistance to MEK inhibitors have not been clearly demonstrated, however, and no molecular biomarker that can predict lung cancer response to MEK inhibitors is available. By determining the dose-responses of 35 human lung cancer cell lines to MEK-specific inhibitor AZD6244, we identified subsets of lung cancer cell lines that are either sensitive or resistant to this agent. Subsequent molecular characterization showed that treatment with AZD6244 suppressed ERK phosphorylation in both sensitive and resistant cells, suggesting that resistance is not mediated by the activities of MEK/ERK themselves. Interestingly, we found that levels of phosphorylated AKT were dramatically higher in the resistant cancer cells than in the sensitive cells. Stable transfection of dominant-negative AKT into resistant cells by retroviral infection restored their susceptibility to AZD6244. These results indicate that phosphorylated AKT may be a biomarker of response to AZD6244 and that modulation of AKT activity may be a useful approach to overcome resistance to MEK inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2835993  PMID: 19783898
AZD6244; MEK inhibitor; resistance; AKT; lung cancer
7.  In vitro and in vivo radiosensitization with AZD6244 (ARRY-142886), an inhibitor of Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase/Extracellular Signal-regulated Kinase 1/2 kinase 
The Mitogen-activated Protein Kinase (MAPK) pathway is important for cell proliferation, survival and differentiation and is frequently upregulated in cancers. The MAPK pathway is also activated after exposure to ionizing radiation. We investigated the effects of AZD6244 (ARRY-142886), an inhibitor of MEK1/2, on radiation response.
Experimental Design
The effects of AZD6244 on the in vitro radiosensitivity of human cancer cell lines (A549, MiaPaCa2 and DU145) was evaluated using clonogenic assays. DNA damage repair was evaluated using γH2AX and mitotic catastrophe was measured using nuclear fragmentation. Cell cycle effects were measured with flow cytometry. Growth delay was used to evaluate the effects of AZD6244 on in vivo tumor radiosensitivity.
Exposure of each cell line to AZD6244 prior to irradiation (IR) resulted in an increase in radiosensitivity with dose enhancement factors (DEF) at a surviving fraction of 0.1 ranging from 1.16 to 2.0. No effects of AZD6244 on radiation-induced apoptosis or persistence of γH2AX foci after IR were detected. Cells treated with AZD6244 had an increased mitotic index and decreased Chk1 phosphorylation at 1 and 3 hours after IR. Mitotic catastrophe was increased in cells receiving both AZD6244 and IR compared to the single treatments. In vivo studies revealed that AZD6244 administration to mice bearing A549 tumor xenografts resulted in a greater than additive increase in radiation-induced tumor growth delay (DEF of 3.38).
These results indicate that AZD6244 can enhance tumor cell radiosensitivity in vitro and in vivo and suggest that this effect involves an increase in mitotic catastrophe.
PMCID: PMC2798161  PMID: 19366835
8.  Initial Testing (Stage 1) of AZD6244 (ARRY-142886) by the Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2010;55(4):668-677.
AZD6244 (ARRY-142886) is a potent small molecule inhibitor of MEK1/2 that is in phase 2 clinical development.
AZD6244 was tested against the PPTP in vitro panel (1 nM-10μM). In vivo AZD6244 was tested at a dose of 100 mg/kg administered orally twice daily five days per week for 6 weeks. Subsequently, AZD6244 was evaluated against two juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma (JPA) xenografts using once and twice daily dosing schedules. Phosphorylation of ERK1/2 was used as a surrogate for in vivo inhibition of MEK1/2 was determined by immunoblotting.
At the highest concentration used in vitro (10 μM) AZD6244 only inhibited growth by 50% in 5 of the 23 cell lines. Against the in vivo tumor panels, AZD6244 induced significant differences in EFS distribution in 10 of 37 (27%) solid tumor models and 0 of 6 acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) models. There were no objective responses. Pharmacodynamic studies indicated at this dose and schedule AZD6244 completely inhibited ERK1/2 phosphorylation. AZD6244 was evaluated against two JPA xenografts, BT-35 (wild type BRAF) and BT-40 (mutant [V600E] BRAF). BT-40 xenografts were highly sensitive to AZD6244, whereas BT-35 xenografts progressed on AZD6244 treatment.
At the dose and schedule of administration used, AZD6244 as a single agent had limited in vitro and in vivo activity against the PPTP tumor panels despite inhibition of MEK1/2 activity. However, AZD6244 was highly active against BT-40 JPA xenografts that harbor constitutively activated BRAF, causing complete regressions.
PMCID: PMC3004092  PMID: 20806365
Preclinical Testing; Developmental Therapeutics; AZD6244
9.  Aag DNA Glycosylase Promotes Alkylation-Induced Tissue Damage Mediated by Parp1 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(4):e1003413.
Alkylating agents comprise a major class of front-line cancer chemotherapeutic compounds, and while these agents effectively kill tumor cells, they also damage healthy tissues. Although base excision repair (BER) is essential in repairing DNA alkylation damage, under certain conditions, initiation of BER can be detrimental. Here we illustrate that the alkyladenine DNA glycosylase (AAG) mediates alkylation-induced tissue damage and whole-animal lethality following exposure to alkylating agents. Aag-dependent tissue damage, as observed in cerebellar granule cells, splenocytes, thymocytes, bone marrow cells, pancreatic β-cells, and retinal photoreceptor cells, was detected in wild-type mice, exacerbated in Aag transgenic mice, and completely suppressed in Aag−/− mice. Additional genetic experiments dissected the effects of modulating both BER and Parp1 on alkylation sensitivity in mice and determined that Aag acts upstream of Parp1 in alkylation-induced tissue damage; in fact, cytotoxicity in WT and Aag transgenic mice was abrogated in the absence of Parp1. These results provide in vivo evidence that Aag-initiated BER may play a critical role in determining the side-effects of alkylating agent chemotherapies and that Parp1 plays a crucial role in Aag-mediated tissue damage.
Author Summary
Alkylating agents are genotoxic chemicals that induce both toxic and mutagenic DNA damage through addition of an alkyl group to DNA. Alkylating agents are routinely and successfully used as chemotherapeutic therapies for cancer patients, with one major disadvantage being the significant toxicity induced in non-tumor tissues. Accordingly, identifying factors that modify susceptibility to alkylation-induced toxicity will provide valuable information in designing cancer therapeutic regimens. This study used mouse genetic experiments to investigate whether proteins important in the base excision repair pathway modulate susceptibility to alkylating agents. In addition to whole-animal toxicity at high doses, treatment of mice with alkylating agents resulted in severe damage to numerous tissues including the cerebellum, retina, bone marrow, spleen, thymus, and the pancreas. We illustrate that the DNA glycosylase Aag can actually confer, rather than prevent, alkylation sensitivity at both the whole-animal and tissue level; i.e., Aag transgenic animals are more susceptible than wild type, whereas Aag-deficient animals are less susceptible than wild type to alkylation-induced toxicity. Further genetic experiments show that the Aag-mediated alkylation sensitivity is dependent on Parp1. Given that we observe a wide range of human AAG expression among healthy individuals, this and other base excision repair proteins may be important factors modulating alkylation susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC3617098  PMID: 23593019
10.  MEK inhibition potentiates the activity of Hsp90 inhibitor 17-AAG against pancreatic cancer cells 
Molecular pharmaceutics  2010;7(5):1576-1584.
The Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK signaling has been implicated in uncontrolled cell proliferation and tumor progression in pancreatic cancer. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the antitumor activity of MEK inhibitor U0126 in combination with Hsp90 inhibitor 17-allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG) in pancreatic cancer cells. Western blotting showed that 17-AAG caused a 2- to 3-fold transient activation of MEK/ERK signaling in pancreatic cancer cells. The activation sustained for 6 h before phospho-ERK (p-ERK) destabilization. The selective MEK inhibitor U0126 completely abolished 17-AAG induced ERK1/2 activation and resulted in more than 80% of phosphor-ERK degradation after only 15 min treatment. Moreover, U0126 had complementary effect on 17-AAG regulated oncogenic and cell cycle related proteins. Although 17-AAG downregulated cyclin D1, cyclin E, CDK4 and CDK6, it led to cyclin A and CDK2 accumulation, which was reversed by the addition of U0126. Anti-proliferation assay showed that combination of U0126 and 17-AAG resulted in synergistic cytotoxic effect. More importantly, 17-AAG alone only exhibited moderate inhibition of cell migration in vitro, while addition of U0126 dramatically enhanced the inhibitory effect by 2- to 5-fold. Taken together, these data demonstrate that MEK inhibitor U0126 potentiates the activity of Hsp90 inhibitor 17-AAG against pancreatic cancer cells. The combination of Hsp90 and MEK inhibition could provide a promising avenue for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC2992603  PMID: 20669973
Hsp90; MEK; ERK; 17-AAG
11.  Oxidative stress plays a critical role in inactivating mutant BRAF by geldanamycin derivatives 
Cancer research  2008;68(15):6324-6330.
The geldanamycin derivatives 17-allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG) and 17-dimethylaminoethylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-DMAG) are promising chemotherapeutic drugs that inhibit heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) function. Previous studies have shown that 17-AAG/DMAG treatment induces the degradation of mutant BRAF (V600E) and inhibits the activation of MAP/ERK1/2 (MEK1/2). We have found, however, that HSP90 inhibition alone is not sufficient for efficient BRAF(V600E) degradation in some cells. HSP90 inhibitors structurally unrelated to geldanamycin, radicicol and novobiocin, while inducing the degradation of the HSP90 client protein RAF-1 fail to induce BRAF(V600E) degradation or inhibit MEK1/2 activation in HT29 human colon cancer cells ‥ Moreover, after treatment with 17-DMAG, the kinase activity of residual, un-degraded BRAF(V600E) was also lost. Incubation of cells with a reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenger, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), partially restored kinase activity and also partially prevented BRAF(V600E) degradation due to 17-DMAG treatment. Conversely, treatment with the ROS producing drug menadione clearly inhibited MEK1/2 and reduced BRAF(V600E). These results suggest that in addition to direct inhibition of HSP90, the anti-tumor effect of geldanamycin and its derivatives is also mediated though the production of ROS which may directly inactivate tumorigenic mutant BRAF(V600E).
PMCID: PMC2693332  PMID: 18676857
BRAF; MAP kinase; geldanamycin; HSP90; ROS
12.  Over-expression of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase (MEK)-MAPK in hepatocellular carcinoma: Its role in tumor progression and apoptosis 
BMC Gastroenterology  2003;3:19.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common malignancies in South East Asia. Although activation of the MEK-MAPK is often associated with cellular growth, the role of MEK-MAPK in growth and survival of hepatocarcinoma cells has not been established.
Immuno-histochemistry was used to localize phosphorylated MAPK and MEK1/2 in the tissues. 3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-y1)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay and ELISA were used to determine cell viability and cell proliferation. Deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL) assay was used to detect apoptotic cells. Western blots analysis was performed to determine the levels of proteins involved in the MEK-MAPK and apoptotic pathways. Transfection study was performed to assess the role of MEK-MAPK pathway in growth and survival of liver cancer cells.
We report that phosphorylation of MEK1/2 at Ser217/221 was detected by immuno-histochemistry in 100% (46 of 46) of HCCs examined. A positive signal was localized in the nuclei of hepatocarcinoma cells but not in dysplastic hepatocytes or stromal cells. Over-expression and phosphorylation of MAPK was also detected in 91% (42 of 46) and 69% (32 of 46) of HCCs examined, respectively. The percentage of cells showing positively for phosphorylated MEK1/2 increased with advancing tumor stage. In vitro, treatment of human HepG2 and Hep3B cells with MEK1/2 specific inhibitors U0126 and PD98059 led to growth inhibition and apoptosis. U0126 induced the release of cytochrome c and increased the cleavage of caspase-3, caspase-7, and poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP). Inhibition of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI-3K), c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 kinase activities caused only a mild apoptosis in HepG2 and Hep3B cells. Activated MEK1-transfected cells were more resistant to UO126-induced apoptosis in vitro and formed larger tumors in SCID mice than mock-transfected cells.
In conclusion, our results demonstrate that MEK-MAPK plays an important role in the growth and survival of liver cancer cells and suggest that blocking MEK-MAPK activity may represent an alternative approach for the treatment of liver cancer.
PMCID: PMC317301  PMID: 12906713
13.  Deoxycholic Acid (DCA) Causes Ligand-independent Activation of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) and FAS Receptor in Primary Hepatocytes: Inhibition of EGFR/Mitogen-activated Protein Kinase-Signaling Module Enhances DCA-induced Apoptosis 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2001;12(9):2629-2645.
Previous studies have argued that enhanced activity of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway can promote tumor cell survival in response to cytotoxic insults. In this study, we examined the impact of MAPK signaling on the survival of primary hepatocytes exposed to low concentrations of deoxycholic acid (DCA, 50 μM). Treatment of hepatocytes with DCA caused MAPK activation, which was dependent upon ligand independent activation of EGFR, and downstream signaling through Ras and PI3 kinase. Neither inhibition of MAPK signaling alone by MEK1/2 inhibitors, nor exposure to DCA alone, enhanced basal hepatocyte apoptosis, whereas inhibition of DCA-induced MAPK activation caused ∼25% apoptosis within 6 h. Similar data were also obtained when either dominant negative EGFR-CD533 or dominant negative Ras N17 were used to block MAPK activation. DCA-induced apoptosis correlated with sequential cleavage of procaspase 8, BID, procaspase 9, and procaspase 3. Inhibition of MAPK potentiated bile acid-induced apoptosis in hepatocytes with mutant FAS-ligand, but did not enhance in hepatocytes that were null for FAS receptor expression. These data argues that DCA is causing ligand independent activation of the FAS receptor to stimulate an apoptotic response, which is counteracted by enhanced ligand-independent EGFR/MAPK signaling. In agreement with FAS-mediated cell killing, inhibition of caspase function with the use of dominant negative Fas-associated protein with death domain, a caspase 8 inhibitor (Ile-Glu-Thr-Asp-p-nitroanilide [IETD]) or dominant negative procaspase 8 blocked the potentiation of bile acid-induced apoptosis. Inhibition of bile acid-induced MAPK signaling enhanced the cleavage of BID and release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, which were all blocked by IETD. Despite activation of caspase 8, expression of dominant negative procaspase 9 blocked procaspase 3 cleavage and the potentiation of DCA-induced apoptosis. Treatment of hepatocytes with DCA transiently increased expression of the caspase 8 inhibitor proteins c-FLIP-S and c-FLIP-L that were reduced by inhibition of MAPK or PI3 kinase. Constitutive overexpression of c-FLIP-s abolished the potentiation of bile acid-induced apoptosis. Collectively, our data argue that loss of DCA-induced EGFR/Ras/MAPK pathway function potentiates DCA-stimulated FAS-induced hepatocyte cell death via a reduction in the expression of c-FLIP isoforms.
PMCID: PMC59700  PMID: 11553704
14.  Antitumor activity of selective MEK1/2 inhibitor AZD6244 in combination with PI3K/mTOR inhibitor BEZ235 in gefitinib-resistant NSCLC xenograft models 
Although the EGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKI) gefitinib have shown dramatic effects against EGFR mutant lung cancer, patients become resistant by various mechanisms, including gatekeeper EGFR-T790M mutation, MET amplification, and KRAS mutation, thereafter relapsing. AZD6244 is a potent, selective, and orally available MEK1/2 inhibitor. In this study, we evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of AZD6244 alone or with BEZ235, an orally available potent inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol 3–kinase (PI3K) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), in gefitinib-resistant non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) models.
Experimental design
NCI-H1975 with EGFR-T790M mutation, NCI-H1993 with MET amplification and NCI-H460 with KRAS/PIK3CA mutation human NSCLC cells were subcutaneous injected into the athymic nude mice respectively. Mice were randomly assigned to treatment with AZD6244, BEZ235, AZD6244 plus BEZ235, or control for 3 weeks, then all mice were sacrificed and tumor tissues were subjected to western blot analyses and immunohistochemical staining.
AZD6244 could inhibit the tumor growth of NCI-H1993, but slightly inhibit the tumor growth of NCI-1975 and NCI-H460. Combining AZD6244 with BEZ235 markedly enhanced their antitumor effects and without any marked adverse events. Western blot analysis and immunohistochemical staining revealed that AZD6244 alone reduced ERK1/2 phosphorylation, angiogenesis, and tumor cell proliferation. Moreover, MEK1/2 inhibition resulted in decreased AKT phosphorylation in NCI-H1993 tumor model. BEZ235 also inhibited AKT phosphorylation as well as their downstream molecules in all three tumor models. The antiangiogenic effects were substantially enhanced when the agents were combined, which may due to the reduced expression of matrix metallopeptidase-9 in tumor tissues (MMP-9).
In this study, we evaluated therapy directed against MEK and PI3K/mTOR in distinct gefitinib-resistant NSCLC xenograft models. Combining AZD6244 with BEZ235 enhanced their antitumor and antiangiogenic effects. We concluded that the combination of a selective MEK inhibitor and a PI3K/mTOR inhibitor was effective in suppressing the growth of gefitinib-resistant tumors caused by EGFR T790M mutation, MET amplification, and KRAS/PIK3CA mutation. This new therapeutic strategy may be a practical approach in the treatment of these patients.
PMCID: PMC4074836  PMID: 24939055
AZD6244; BEZ235; Tyrosine kinase inhibitor; Non-small cell lung cancer
15.  Apoptosis Induction by MEK Inhibition in Human Lung Cancer Cells Is Mediated by Bim 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e13026.
AZD6244 (ARRY-142886) is an inhibitor of MEK1/2 and can inhibit cell proliferation or induce apoptosis in a cell-type dependent manner. The precise molecular mechanism of AZD6244-induced apoptosis is not clear. To investigate mechanisms of AZD6244 induced apoptosis in human lung cancer, we determined the molecular changes of two subgroups of human lung cancer cell lines that are either sensitive or resistant to AZD6244 treatment. We found that AZD6244 elicited a large increase of Bim proteins and a smaller increase of PUMA and NOXA proteins, and induced cell death in sensitive lung cancer cell lines, but had no effect on other Bcl-2 related proteins in those cell lines. Knockdown of Bim by siRNA greatly increased the IC50 and reduced apoptosis for AZD6244 treated cells. We also found that levels of endogenous p-Thr32-FOXO3a and p-Ser253-FOXO3a were lower in AZD6244-sensitive cells than in AZD6244-resistant cells. In the sensitive cells, AZD6244 induced FOXO3a nuclear translocation required for Bim activation. Moreover, the silencing of FOXO3a by siRNA abrogated AZD6244-induced cell apoptosis. In addition, we found that transfection of constitutively active AKT up-regulated p-Thr32-FOXO3a and p-Ser253-FOXO3a expression and inhibited AZD6244-induced Bim expression in sensitive cells. These results show that Bim plays an important role in AZD6244-induced apoptosis in lung cancer cells and that the PI3K/AKT/FOXO3a pathway is involved in Bim regulation and susceptibility of lung cancer cells to AZD6244. These results have implications in the development of strategies to overcome resistance to MEK inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2946397  PMID: 20885957
16.  Identification of common predictive markers of in vitro response to the MEK inhibitor selumetinib (AZD6244; ARRY-142886) in human breast cancer and non-small cell lung cancer cell lines 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(7):1985-1994.
Selumetinib (AZD6244; ARRY-142886) is a tight-binding, uncompetitive inhibitor of MEK1/2 currently in clinical development. We evaluated the effects of selumetinib in 31 human breast cancer cell lines and 43 human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines to identify characteristics correlating with in vitro sensitivity to MEK inhibition. IC50 less than 1µM (considered sensitive) was seen in 5 of 31 breast cancer cell lines and 15 of 43 NSCLC cell lines, with a correlation between sensitivity and raf mutations in breast cancer cell lines (p= 0.022) and ras mutations in NSCLC cell lines (p= 0.045). Evaluation of 27 of the NSCLC cell lines with Western blots demonstrated no clear association between MEK and PI3K pathway activation and sensitivity to MEK inhibition. Baseline gene expression profiles were generated for each cell line using Agilent gene expression arrays to identify additional predictive markers. Genes associated with differential sensitivity to selumetinib were seen in both histologies, including a small number of genes in which differential expression was common to both histologies. In total, these results suggest that clinical trials of selumetinib in breast cancer and NSCLC might select patients whose tumors harbor raf and ras mutations respectively.
PMCID: PMC2939826  PMID: 20587667
AZD6244; MEK; Breast cancer; Lung Cancer
17.  OSU-03012 interacts with lapatinib to kill brain cancer cells 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2012;13(14):1501-1511.
We have further defined mechanism(s) by which the drug OSU-03012 (OSU) kills brain cancer cells. OSU toxicity was enhanced by the HSP90 inhibitor 17-N-Allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17AAG) that correlated with reduced expression of ERBB1 and ERBB2. Inhibition of the extrinsic apoptosis pathway blocked the interaction between 17AAG and OSU. OSU toxicity was enhanced by the inhibitor of ERBB1/2/4, lapatinib. Knock down of ERBB1/2/4 in a cell line specific fashion promoted OSU toxicity. Combined exposure of cells to lapatinib and OSU resulted in reduced AKT and ERK1/2 activity; expression of activated forms of AKT and to a lesser extent MEK1 protected cells from the lethal effects of the drug combination. Knock down of PTEN suppressed, and expression of PTEN enhanced, the lethal interaction between OSU and lapatinib. Downstream of PTEN, inhibition of mTOR recapitulated the effects of lapatinib. Knock down of CD95, NOXA, PUMA, BIK or AIF, suppressed lapatinib and OSU toxicity. Knock down of MCL-1 enhanced, and overexpression of MCL-1 suppressed, drug combination lethality. Lapatinib and OSU interacted in vivo to suppress the growth of established tumors. Collectively our data argue that the inhibition of ERBB receptor function represents a useful way to enhance OSU lethality in brain tumor cells.
PMCID: PMC3542242  PMID: 22990204
glioblastoma; medulloblastoma; lapatinib; OSU-03012; apoptosis; autophagy; ERBB1; PTEN
18.  Selective BRAFV600E Inhibitor PLX4720, Requires TRAIL Assistance to Overcome Oncogenic PIK3CA Resistance 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21632.
Documented sensitivity of melanoma cells to PLX4720, a selective BRAFV600E inhibitor, is based on the presence of mutant BRAFV600E alone, while wt-BRAF or mutated KRAS result in cell proliferation. In colon cancer appearance of oncogenic alterations is complex , since BRAF, like KRAS mutations, tend to co-exist with those in PIK3CA and mutated PI3K has been shown to interfere with the successful application of MEK inhibitors. When PLX4720 was used to treat colon tumours, results were not encouraging and herein we attempt to understand the cause of this recorded resistance and discover rational therapeutic combinations to resensitize oncogene driven tumours to apoptosis. Treatment of two genetically different BRAFV600E mutant colon cancer cell lines with PLX4720 conferred complete resistance to cell death. Even though p-MAPK/ ERK kinase (MEK) suppression was achieved, TRAIL, an apoptosis inducing agent, was used synergistically in order to achieve cell death by apoptosis in RKOBRAFV600E/PIK3CAH1047 cells. In contrast, for the same level of apoptosis in HT29BRAFV600E/PIK3CAP449T cells, TRAIL was combined with 17-AAG, an Hsp90 inhibitor. For cells where PLX4720 was completely ineffective, 17-AAG was alternatively used to target mutant BRAFV600E. TRAIL dependence on the constitutive activation of BRAFV600E is emphasised through the overexpression of BRAFV600E in the permissive genetic background of colon adenocarcinoma Caco-2 cells. Pharmacological suppression of the PI3K pathway further enhances the synergistic effect between TRAIL and PLX4720 in RKO cells, indicating the presence of PIK3CAMT as the inhibitory factor. Another rational combination includes 17-AAG synergism with TRAIL in a BRAFV600E mutant dependent manner to commit cells to apoptosis, through DR5 and the amplification of the apoptotic pathway. We have successfully utilised combinations of two chemically unrelated BRAFV600E inhibitors in combination with TRAIL in a BRAFV600E mutated background and provided insight for new anti-cancer strategies where the activated PI3KCA mutation oncogene should be suppressed.
PMCID: PMC3124547  PMID: 21738740
19.  Activation of MEK1 or MEK2 isoform is sufficient to fully transform intestinal epithelial cells and induce the formation of metastatic tumors 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:337.
The Ras-dependent ERK1/2 MAP kinase signaling pathway plays a central role in cell proliferation control and is frequently activated in human colorectal cancer. Small-molecule inhibitors of MEK1/MEK2 are therefore viewed as attractive drug candidates for the targeted therapy of this malignancy. However, the exact contribution of MEK1 and MEK2 to the pathogenesis of colorectal cancer remains to be established.
Wild type and constitutively active forms of MEK1 and MEK2 were ectopically expressed by retroviral gene transfer in the normal intestinal epithelial cell line IEC-6. We studied the impact of MEK1 and MEK2 activation on cellular morphology, cell proliferation, survival, migration, invasiveness, and tumorigenesis in mice. RNA interference was used to test the requirement for MEK1 and MEK2 function in maintaining the proliferation of human colorectal cancer cells.
We found that expression of activated MEK1 or MEK2 is sufficient to morphologically transform intestinal epithelial cells, dysregulate cell proliferation and induce the formation of high-grade adenocarcinomas after orthotopic transplantation in mice. A large proportion of these intestinal tumors metastasize to the liver and lung. Mechanistically, activation of MEK1 or MEK2 up-regulates the expression of matrix metalloproteinases, promotes invasiveness and protects cells from undergoing anoikis. Importantly, we show that silencing of MEK2 expression completely suppresses the proliferation of human colon carcinoma cell lines, whereas inactivation of MEK1 has a much weaker effect.
MEK1 and MEK2 isoforms have similar transforming properties and are able to induce the formation of metastatic intestinal tumors in mice. Our results suggest that MEK2 plays a more important role than MEK1 in sustaining the proliferation of human colorectal cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC2596176  PMID: 19014680
20.  Gefitinib-Induced Killing of NSCLC Cell Lines Expressing Mutant EGFR Requires BIM and Can Be Enhanced by BH3 Mimetics 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(10):e316.
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) plays a critical role in the control of cellular proliferation, differentiation, and survival. Abnormalities in EGF-EGFR signaling, such as mutations that render the EGFR hyperactive or cause overexpression of the wild-type receptor, have been found in a broad range of cancers, including carcinomas of the lung, breast, and colon. EGFR inhibitors such as gefitinib have proven successful in the treatment of certain cancers, particularly non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) harboring activating mutations within the EGFR gene, but the molecular mechanisms leading to tumor regression remain unknown. Therefore, we wished to delineate these mechanisms.
Methods and Findings
We performed biochemical and genetic studies to investigate the mechanisms by which inhibitors of EGFR tyrosine kinase activity, such as gefitinib, inhibit the growth of human NSCLCs. We found that gefitinib triggered intrinsic (also called “mitochondrial”) apoptosis signaling, involving the activation of BAX and mitochondrial release of cytochrome c, ultimately unleashing the caspase cascade. Gefitinib caused a rapid increase in the level of the proapoptotic BH3-only protein BIM (also called BCL2-like 11) through both transcriptional and post-translational mechanisms. Experiments with pharmacological inhibitors indicated that blockade of MEK–ERK1/2 (mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase–extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase 1/2) signaling, but not blockade of PI3K (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase), JNK (c-Jun N-terminal kinase or mitogen-activated protein kinase 8), or AKT (protein kinase B), was critical for BIM activation. Using RNA interference, we demonstrated that BIM is essential for gefitinib-induced killing of NSCLC cells. Moreover, we found that gefitinib-induced apoptosis is enhanced by addition of the BH3 mimetic ABT-737.
Inhibitors of the EGFR tyrosine kinase have proven useful in the therapy of certain cancers, in particular NSCLCs possessing activating mutations in the EGFR kinase domain, but the mechanisms of tumor cell killing are still unclear. In this paper, we demonstrate that activation of the proapoptotic BH3-only protein BIM is essential for tumor cell killing and that shutdown of the EGFR–MEK–ERK signaling cascade is critical for BIM activation. Moreover, we demonstrate that addition of a BH3 mimetic significantly enhances killing of NSCLC cells by the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor gefitinib. It appears likely that this approach represents a paradigm shared by many, and perhaps all, oncogenic tyrosine kinases and suggests a powerful new strategy for cancer therapy.
Andreas Strasser and colleagues demonstrate that activation of the proapoptotic BH3-only protein BIM is essential for tumor cell killing and that shutdown of the EGFR−MEK−ERK signaling cascade is critical for BIM activation.
Editors' Summary
Normally, cell division (which produces new cells) and cell death are finely balanced to keep the human body in good working order. But sometimes cells acquire changes (mutations) in their genetic material that allow them to divide uncontrollably to form cancers—life-threatening, disorganized masses of cells. One protein with a critical role in cell division that is often mutated in tumors is the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). In normal cells, protein messengers bind to EGFR and activate its tyrosine kinase. This enzyme then adds phosphate groups to tyrosine (an amino acid) in proteins that form part of signaling cascades (for example, the MEK–ERK signaling cascade) that tell the cell to divide. In cancers that have mutations in EGFR, signaling is overactive so the cancer cells divide much more than they should. Some non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC, the commonest type of lung cancer), for example, have activating mutations within the EGFR tyrosine kinase. Treatment with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) such as gefitinib and erlotinib induces the cells in these tumors to stop growing and die. This cell death causes tumor shrinkage (regression) and increases the life expectancy of patients with this type of NSCLC.
Why Was This Study Done?
Unfortunately, treatment with TKIs rarely cures NSCLC, so it would be useful to find a way to augment the effect that TKIs have on cancer cells. To do this, the molecular mechanisms that cause cancer-cell death and tumor regression in response to these drugs need to be fully understood. In this study, the researchers have used a combination of biochemical and genetic approaches to investigate how gefitinib kills NSCLC cells with mutated EGFR.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers first measured the sensitivity of NSCLC cell lines (tumor cells that grow indefinitely in dishes) to gefitinib-induced apoptosis. Gefitinib caused extensive apoptosis in two cell lines expressing mutant EGFR but not in one expressing normal EGFR. Next, they investigated the mechanism of gefitinib-induced apoptosis in the most sensitive cell line (H3255). Apoptosis is activated via two major pathways. Hallmarks of the “intrinsic” pathway include activation of a protein called BAX and cytochrome c release from subcellular compartments known as mitochondria. Gefitinib treatment induced both these events in H3255 cells. BAX (a proapoptotic member of the BCL-2 family of proteins) is activated when proapoptotic BH3-only BCL-2 proteins (for example, BIM; “BH3-only” describes the structure of these proteins) bind to antiapoptotic BCL2 proteins. Gefitinib treatment rapidly increased BIM activity in H3255 and HCC827 cells (but not in gefitinib-resistant cells) by increasing the production of BIM protein and the removal of phosphate groups from it, which increases BIM activity. Pharmacological blockade of the MEK–ERK signaling cascade, but not of other EGFR signaling cascades, also caused the accumulation of BIM. By contrast, blocking BIM expression using a technique called RNA interference reduced gefitinib-induced apoptosis. Finally, a combination of gefitinib and a BH3-mimicking compound called ABT-737 (which, like BIM, binds to antiapoptotic BCL-2 proteins) caused more apoptosis than gefitinib alone.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings (and those reported by Gong et al. and Costa et al.) indicate that activation of the proapoptotic BH3-only protein BIM is essential for gefitinib-induced killing of NSCLC cells that carry EGFR tyrosine kinase mutations. They also show that inhibition of the EGFR–MEK–ERK signaling cascade by gefitinib is essential for BIM activation. Because these findings come from studies on NSCLC cell lines, they need confirming in freshly isolated tumor cells and in tumors growing in people. However, the demonstration that a compound that mimics BH3 action enhances gefitinib-induced killing of NSCLC cells suggests that combinations of TKIs and drugs that affect the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis activation might provide a powerful strategy for treating cancers in which tyrosine kinase mutations drive tumor growth.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
A perspective by Ingo Mellinghoff discusses this article and two related research articles
Wikipedia pages on epidermal growth factor receptor, apoptosis, and BCL2 proteins (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
CancerQuest provides information on all aspects of cancer from Emory University (in several languages)
US National Cancer Institute information for patients and professionals on lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
Information for patients from Cancer Research UK on lung cancer including information on treatment with TKIs
Information for patients from Cancerbackup on erlotinib and gefitinib
PMCID: PMC2043013  PMID: 17973573
21.  Sulforaphane Potentiates the Efficacy of 17-Allylamino 17-Demethoxygeldanamycin Against Pancreatic Cancer Through Enhanced Abrogation of Hsp90 Chaperone Function 
Nutrition and cancer  2011;63(7):10.1080/01635581.2011.596645.
Heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90), an essential molecular chaperone that regulates the stability of a wide range of oncogenic proteins, is a promising target for cancer therapeutics. We investigated the combination efficacy and potential mechanisms of sulforaphane, a dietary component from broccoli and broccoli sprouts, and 17-allylamino 17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG), an Hsp90 inhibitor, in pancreatic cancer. MTS assay demonstrated that sulforaphane sensitized pancreatic cancer cells to 17-AAG in vitro. Caspase-3 was activated to 6.4-fold in response to simultaneous treatment with sulforaphane and 17-AAG, whereas 17-AAG alone induced caspase-3 activity to 2-fold compared to control. ATP binding assay and coimmunoprecipitation revealed that sulforaphane disrupted Hsp90-p50Cdc37 interaction, whereas 17-AAG inhibited ATP binding to Hsp90. Concomitant use of sulforaphane and 17-AAG synergistically downregulated Hsp90 client proteins in Mia Paca-2 cells. Co-administration of sulforaphane and 17-AAG in pancreatic cancer xenograft model led to more than 70% inhibition of the tumor growth, whereas 17-AAG alone only suppressed the tumor growth by 50%. Our data suggest that sulforaphane potentiates the efficacy of 17-AAG against pancreatic cancer through enhanced abrogation of Hsp90 function. These findings provide a rationale for further evaluation of broccoli/broccoli sprout preparations combined with 17-AAG for better efficacy and lower dose-limiting toxicity in pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC3850054  PMID: 21875325
22.  Dual blockade of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR (AZD8055) and RAS/MEK/ERK (AZD6244) pathways synergistically inhibits rhabdomyosarcoma cell growth in vitro and in vivo 
To provide rationale for using PI3K and/or MAPK pathway inhibitors to treat rhabdomyosarcomas (RMS), a major cause of pediatric/adolescent cancer deaths.
Experimental design
The prevalence of PI3K/MAPK pathway activation in RMS clinical samples was assessed using immunohistochemistry. Compensatory signaling and crosstalk between PI3K/MAPK pathways was determined in RMS cell lines following p110α shRNA-mediated depletion. Pharmacological inhibition of reprogrammed signaling in stable p110α knockdown lines was used to determine the target-inhibition profile inducing maximal growth inhibition. The in vitro and in vivo efficacy of inhibitors of TORC1/2(AZD8055), MEK(AZD6244) and P13K/mTOR(NVP-BEZ235) were evaluated alone and in pair-wise combinations.
PI3K pathway activation was seen in 82.5% rhabdomyosarcomas with co-activated MAPK in 36% and 46% of alveolar and embryonal sub-types respectively. p110α knockdown in cell lines over the short and long term was associated with compensatory expression of other p110 isoforms, activation of the MAPK pathway and cross-talk to reactivate the PI3K pathway. Combinations of PI3K pathway and MEK inhibitors synergistically inhibited cell growth in vitro. Treatment of RD cells with AZD8055 plus AZD6244 blocked reciprocal pathway activation, as evidenced by reduced AKT/ERK/S6 phosphorylation. In vivo, the synergistic effect on growth and changes in pharmacodynamic biomarkers was recapitulated using the AZD8055/AZD6244 combination but not NVP-BEZ235/AZD6244. Pharmacokinetic analysis provided evidence of drug-drug interaction with both combinations.
Dual PI3K/MAPK pathway activation and compensatory signaling in both rhabdomyosarcoma subtypes predicts a lack of clinical efficacy for single agents targeting either pathway, supporting a therapeutic strategy combining a TORC1/2 with a MEK inhibitor.
PMCID: PMC3818134  PMID: 23918606
Rhabdomyosarcoma; PI3K pathway inhibitors; MAPK pathway inhibitor; synergistic inhibition; pharmacodynamics/pharmacokinetics
23.  Down-regulation of cellular FLICE-inhibitory protein (Long Form) contributes to apoptosis induced by Hsp90 inhibition in human lung cancer cells 
Cellular FLICE-Inhibitory Protein (long form, c-FLIPL) is a critical negative regulator of death receptor-mediated apoptosis. Overexpression of c-FLIPL has been reported in many cancer cell lines and is associated with chemoresistance. In contrast, down-regulation of c-FLIP may drive cancer cells into cellular apoptosis. This study aims to demonstrate that inhibition of the heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) either by inhibitors geldanamycin/17-N-Allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (GA/17-AAG) or siRNA technique in human lung cancer cells induces c-FLIPL degradation and cellular apoptosis through C-terminus of Hsp70-interacting protein (CHIP)-mediated mechanisms.
Calu-1 and H157 cell lines (including H157-c-FLIPL overexpressing c-FLIPL and control cell H157-lacZ) were treated with 17-AAG and the cell lysates were prepared to detect the given proteins by Western Blot and the cell survival was assayed by SRB assay. CHIP and Hsp90 α/β proteins were knocked down by siRNA technique. CHIP and c-FLIPL plasmids were transfected into cells and immunoprecipitation experiments were performed to testify the interactions between c-FLIPL, CHIP and Hsp90.
c-FLIPL down-regulation induced by 17-AAG can be reversed with the proteasome inhibitor MG132, which suggested that c-FLIPL degradation is mediated by a ubiquitin-proteasome system. Inhibition of Hsp90α/β reduced c-FLIPL level, whereas knocking down CHIP expression with siRNA technique inhibited c-FLIPL degradation. Furthermore, c-FLIPL and CHIP were co-precipitated in the IP complexes. In addition, overexpression of c-FLIPL can rescue cancer cells from apoptosis. When 17-AAG was combined with an anti-cancer agent celecoxib(CCB), c-FLIPL level declined further and there was a higher degree of caspase activation.
We have elucidated c-FLIPL degradation contributes to apoptosis induced by Hsp90 inhibition, suggesting c-FLIP and Hsp90 may be the promising combined targets in human lung cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC3558364  PMID: 23256568
c-FLIPL; Apoptosis; CHIP; Hsp90
24.  Induction of Angiogenesis by Heat Shock Protein 90 Mediated by Protein Kinase Akt and Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase 
A specific inhibitor of heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90), 17-AAG, has been shown to inhibit tumor growth through cell cycle arrest, differentiation, or apoptosis. Because angiogenesis is important for tumor growth, we hypothesize that inhibition of angiogenesis by 17-AAG may mediate some of its antitumor effects.
Methods and Results
Because protein kinase Akt and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) are critical for angiogenesis, we studied the effects of 17-AAG on the phosphorylation and expression of Akt and eNOS in human umbilical vein endothelial cells. In a concentration- and time-dependent manner, inhibition of Hsp90 by 17-AAG decreased Akt and eNOS expression by 74% and 81%, respectively. Inhibition of eNOS expression by 17-AAG occurred at the transcriptional level as determined by eNOS promoter activity and nuclear run-on assay. Furthermore, treatment with 17-AAG decreased basal and vascular endothelial growth factor-stimulated Akt and eNOS phosphorylation. This corresponded with decreased NO production and inhibition of endothelial cell migration and angiogenesis. The anti-angiogenic effect of 17-AAG was partially reversed by the NO donor, SNAP.
These findings indicate that Hsp90 is important not only for Akt and eNOS phosphorylation but also for eNOS gene transcription and suggests that Hsp90 may be a novel target for anti-angiogenic therapy.
PMCID: PMC2633590  PMID: 15486309
angiogenesis; endothelium; nitric oxide; heat shock protein; protein kinase Akt
25.  Phase II Trial of 17-Allylamino-17-Demethoxygeldanamycin in Patients with Metastatic Melanoma 
Activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway and the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/AKT pathway seems to be critical for melanoma proliferation. Components of these pathways are client proteins of heat-shock protein 90 (hsp90), suggesting that inhibition of hsp90 could have significant antimelanoma effects. We conducted a phase II trial using the hsp90 inhibitor 17-allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG) in melanoma patients. The primary end points were clinical responses and whether treatment inhibited MAPK pathway activity.
Experimental Design
Melanoma patients with measurable disease were stratified on the basis of whether or not their tumor harbored a V600E BRAF mutation. The hsp90 inhibitor 17-AAG was administered i.v. once weekly ×6 weeks at 450 mg/m2. Tumor biopsies were obtained pretreatment and 18 to 50 hours after the first dose of 17-AAG, and were snap-frozen.
Fifteen evaluable patients were treated; nine had BRAF mutations and six were wild-type. No objective responses were observed. Western blot analysis of tumor biopsies showed an increase in hsp70 and a decrease in cyclin D1expression in the posttreatment biopsies but no significant effect on RAF kinases or phospho - extracellular signal-regulated kinase expression. Plasma analyzed by mutant-specific PCR for V600E BRAF showed 86% sensitivity and 67% specificity in predicting tumor DNA sequencing results.
At this dose and schedule of 17-AAG, the effects of 17-AAG on RAF kinase expression were short-lived, and no objective antimelanoma responses were seen. Future trials in melanoma should focus on a more potent hsp90 inhibitor or a formulation that can be administered chronically for a more prolonged suppression of the MAPK pathway.
PMCID: PMC2629404  PMID: 19088048

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