Research Papers:

Roscovitine strongly enhances the effect of olaparib on radiosensitivity for HPV neg. but not for HPV pos. HNSCC cell lines

Frank Ziemann, Steve Seltzsam, Kristin Dreffke, Stefanie Preising, Andrea Arenz, Florentine S.B. Subtil, Thorsten Rieckmann, Rita Engenhart-Cabillic, Ekkehard Dikomey and Andrea Wittig _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:105170-105183. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.22005

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Frank Ziemann1, Steve Seltzsam1, Kristin Dreffke1, Stefanie Preising1, Andrea Arenz1, Florentine S.B. Subtil1, Thorsten Rieckmann2,3, Rita Engenhart-Cabillic1, Ekkehard Dikomey1,2 and Andrea Wittig1

1Department of Radiotherapy and Radiooncology, Philipps-University Marburg, University Hospital Gießen and Marburg, Marburg, Germany

2Laboratory for Radiobiology & Experimental Radiooncology, University Medical Center Hamburg Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany

3Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, University Medical Center Hamburg Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany

Correspondence to:

Andrea Wittig, email: [email protected]

Keywords: human papillomavirus; roscovitine; homologous recombination; ionizing radiation; HNSCC

Received: June 03, 2017     Accepted: October 04, 2017     Published: October 24, 2017


At present, advanced stage human Papillomavirus (HPV) negative and positive head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) are treated by intense multimodal therapy that includes radiochemotherapy, which are associated with relevant side effects. Patients with HPV positive tumors possess a far better prognosis than those with HPV negative cancers. Therefore, new therapeutic strategies are needed to improve the outcome especially of the latter one as well as quality of life for all HNSCC patients. Here we tested whether roscovitine, an inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs), which hereby also blocks homologous recombination (HR), can be used to enhance the radiation sensitivity of HNSCC cell lines.

In all five HPV negative and HPV positive cell lines tested, roscovitine caused inhibition of CDK1 and 2. Surprisingly, all HPV positive cell lines were found to be defective in HR. In contrast, HPV negative strains demonstrated efficient HR, which was completely suppressed by roscovitine. In line with this, for HPV negative but not for HPV positive cell lines, treatment with roscovitine resulted in a pronounced enhancement of the radiation-induced G2 arrest as well as a significant increase in radiosensitivity. Due to a defect in HR, all HPV positive cell lines were efficiently radiosensitized by the PARP-1 inhibitor olaparib. In contrast, in HPV negative cell lines a significant radiosensitization by olaparib was only achieved when combined with roscovitine.

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