Research Papers:

HSP90 inhibition downregulates thymidylate synthase and sensitizes colorectal cancer cell lines to the effect of 5FU-based chemotherapy

Ganji Purnachandra Nagaraju, Olatunji B. Alese, Jerome Landry, Roberto Diaz and Bassel F. El-Rayes _

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:9980-9991. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2484

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Ganji Purnachandra Nagaraju1, Olatunji B. Alese1, Jerome Landry2, Roberto Diaz3 and Bassel F. El-Rayes1

1 Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Atlanta, USA

2 Department of Radiation Oncology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

3 Department of Radiation Oncology, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Tampa, FL, USA


Bassel F. El-Rayes, email:

Keywords: Colon cancer, ganetespib, Hsp90, cell cycle progression and chemotherapy

Received: August 05, 2014 Accepted: September 15, 2014 Published: September 16, 2014


Cell cycle progression and DNA synthesis are essential steps in cancer cell growth. Thymidylate synthase (TS) is a therapeutic target for 5FU. We tested the hypothesis that HSP90 transcriptional and functional inhibition can inhibit cell cycle progression, downregulate TS levels and sensitize colorectal cancer (CRC) cell lines to the effects of 5FU. Treatment with ganetespib (50nM) for 24 hours inhibited cyclin D1 and pRb at the transcriptional and translational levels and induced p21, leading to G0/G1 cell cycle arrest in both CRC cell lines (HCT-116 and HT-29). This was associated with downregulation of E2F1 and its target gene TS. In addition, ganetespib inhibited PI3K/Akt and ERK signalling pathways. Similar effects were observed with HSP90 knockdown in both cell lines. Ganetespib sensitized CRC cell lines to the effects of oxaliplatin and 5FU. Similar effects were also observed in tumors from animals treated with ganetespib, oxaliplatin and 5FU. In this study, we present in vitro and animal data supporting that the targeting of HSP90 decreases CRC cell survival and proliferation. Ganetespib sensitizes CRC cell lines to the effects of 5FU-based chemotherapy. Combining HSP90 inhibitors with chemotherapy is a rational approach for future drug development in CRC.

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