Research Papers:

Targeting the DNA replication checkpoint by pharmacologic inhibition of Chk1 kinase: a strategy to sensitize APC mutant colon cancer cells to 5-fluorouracil chemotherapy

Estefania Martino-Echarri, Beric R. Henderson and Mariana G. Brocardo _

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:9889-9900. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2475

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Estefania Martino-Echarri1, Beric R. Henderson1,* and Mariana G. Brocardo1,*

1 Centre for Cancer Research, University of Sydney, Westmead Millennium Institute at Westmead Hospital, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia

* These authors contributed equally to this work


Mariana G. Brocardo, email:

Keywords: 5-fluorouracil, APC, DNA replication checkpoint, Chk1 inhibitors, colon cancer

Received: June 15, 2014 Accepted: September 15, 2014 Published: September 16, 2014


5-fluorouracil (5-FU) is the first line component used in colorectal cancer (CRC) therapy however even in combination with other chemotherapeutic drugs recurrence is common. Mutations of the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene are considered as the initiating step of transformation in familial and sporadic CRCs. We have previously shown that APC regulates the cellular response to DNA replication stress and recently hypothesized that APC mutations might therefore influence 5-FU resistance. To test this, we compared CRC cell lines and show that those expressing truncated APC exhibit a limited response to 5-FU and arrest in G1/S-phase without undergoing lethal damage, unlike cells expressing wild-type APC. In SW480 APC-mutant CRC cells, 5-FU-dependent apoptosis was restored after transient expression of full length APC, indicating a direct link between APC and drug response. Furthermore, we could increase sensitivity of APC truncated cells to 5-FU by inactivating the Chk1 kinase using drug treatment or siRNA-mediated knockdown. Our findings identify mutant APC as a potential tumor biomarker of resistance to 5-FU, and importantly we show that APC-mutant CRC cells can be made more sensitive to 5-FU by use of Chk1 inhibitors.

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