Research Papers:

Inhibition of exportin-1 function results in rapid cell cycle-associated DNA damage in cancer cells

Russell T. Burke, Joshua M. Marcus and James D. Orth _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:39460-39475. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.17063

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Russell T. Burke1, Joshua M. Marcus1,2 and James D. Orth1

1Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA

2Current/Present address: Cell, Molecular and Developmental Biology, Graduate Biomedical Sciences, University of Alabama Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA

Correspondence to:

James D. Orth, email: [email protected]

Keywords: XPO1, DNA damage, cell cycle, selinexor, therapeutic combinations

Received: October 29, 2016    Accepted: March 08, 2017    Published: April 12, 2017


Selective inhibitors of nuclear export (SINE) are small molecules in development as anti-cancer agents. The first-in-class SINE, selinexor, is in clinical trials for blood and solid cancers. Selinexor forms a covalent bond with exportin-1 at cysteine-528, and blocks its ability to export cargos. Previous work has shown strong cell cycle effects and drug-induced cell death across many different cancer-derived cell lines. Here, we report strong cell cycle-associated DNA double-stranded break formation upon the treatment of cancer cells with SINE. In multiple cell models, selinexor treatment results in the formation of clustered DNA damage foci in 30-40% of cells within 8 hours that is dependent upon cysteine-528. DNA damage strongly correlates with G1/S-phase and decreased DNA replication. Live cell microscopy reveals an association between DNA damage and cell fate. Cells that form damage in G1-phase more often die or arrest, while those damaged in S/G2-phase frequently progress to cell division. Up to half of all treated cells form damage foci, and most cells that die after being damaged, were damaged in G1-phase. By comparison, non-transformed cell lines show strong cell cycle effects but little DNA damage and less death than cancer cells. Significant drug combination effects occur when selinexor is paired with different classes of agents that either cause DNA damage or that diminish DNA damage repair. These data present a novel effect of exportin-1 inhibition and provide a strong rationale for multiple combination treatments of selinexor with agents that are currently in use for the treatment of different solid cancers.

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