Int J Biol Sci 2015; 11(4):411-422. doi:10.7150/ijbs.10745
MEK Inhibitor PD-0325901 Overcomes Resistance to CK2 Inhibitor CX-4945 and Exhibits Anti-Tumor Activity in Head and Neck Cancer
1. Tumor Biology Section, Head and Neck Surgery Branch, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA;
The serine-threonine kinase CK2 exhibits genomic alterations and aberrant overexpression in human head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). Here, we investigated the effects of CK2 inhibitor CX-4945 in human HNSCC cell lines and xenograft models. The IC50's of CX-4945 for 9 UM-SCC cell lines measured by MTT assay ranged from 3.4-11.9 μM. CX-4945 induced cell cycle arrest and cell death measured by DNA flow cytometry, and inhibited prosurvival mediators phospho-AKT and p-S6 in UM-SCC1 and UM-SCC46 cells. CX-4945 decreased NF-κB and Bcl-XL reporter gene activities in both cell lines, but upregulated proapoptotic TP53 and p21 reporter activities, and induced phospho-ERK, AP-1, and IL-8 activity in UM-SCC1 cells. CX-4945 exhibited modest anti-tumor activity in UM-SCC1 xenografts. Tumor immunostaining revealed significant inhibition of PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway and increased apoptosis marker TUNEL, but also induced p-ERK, c-JUN, JUNB, FOSL1 and proliferation (Ki67) markers, as a possible resistance mechanism. To overcome the drug resistance, we tested MEK inhibitor PD-0325901 (PD-901), which inhibited ERK-AP-1 activation alone and in combination with CX-4945. PD-901 alone displayed significant anti-tumor effects in vivo, and the combination of PD-901 and CX-4945 slightly enhanced anti-tumor activity when compared with PD-901 alone. Immunostaining of tumor specimens after treatment revealed inhibition of p-AKT S129 and p-AKT T308 by CX-4945, and inhibition of p-ERK T202/204 and AP-1 family member FOSL-1 by PD-901. Our study reveals a drug resistance mechanism mediated by the MEK-ERK-AP-1 pathway in HNSCC. MEK inhibitor PD-0325901 is active in HNSCC resistant to CX-4945, meriting further clinical investigation.
Keywords: CX-4945, CK2 inhibitor, PD-0325901, MEK inhibitor, head and neck cancer.
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How to cite this article:
Bian Y, Han J, Kannabiran V, Mohan S, Cheng H, Friedman J, Zhang L, VanWaes C, Chen Z. MEK Inhibitor PD-0325901 Overcomes Resistance to CK2 Inhibitor CX-4945 and Exhibits Anti-Tumor Activity in Head and Neck Cancer. Int J Biol Sci 2015; 11(4):411-422. doi:10.7150/ijbs.10745. Available from http://www.ijbs.com/v11p0411.htm