Research Papers:

Synthetic lethality in CCNE1-amplified high grade serous ovarian cancer through combined inhibition of Polo-like kinase 1 and microtubule dynamics

Sabrina Noack, Monika Raab, Yves Matthess, Mourad Sanhaji, Andrea Krämer, Balázs Győrffy, Lars Kaderali, Ahmed El-Balat, Sven Becker and Klaus Strebhardt _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:25842-25859. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25386

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Sabrina Noack1, Monika Raab1, Yves Matthess1,2, Mourad Sanhaji1, Andrea Krämer1, Balázs Győrffy3,5, Lars Kaderali4, Ahmed El-Balat1, Sven Becker1 and Klaus Strebhardt1,2

1Department of Gynecology, Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

2German Cancer Consortium DKTK, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany

3MTA TTK Lendület Cancer Biomarker Research Group, Institute of Enzymology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary

4Institute of Bioinformatics, University Medicine Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany

5Semmelweis University 2nd Department of Pediatrics, Budapest, Hungary

Correspondence to:

Klaus Strebhardt, email: [email protected]

Keywords: ovarian cancer; protein kinases; cell cycle; paclitaxel; sensitization

Received: January 30, 2018     Accepted: April 23, 2018     Published: May 25, 2018


The taxanes are effective microtubule-stabilizing chemotherapy drugs that inhibit mitosis, induce apoptosis, and produce regression in a fraction of cancers that arise at many sites including the ovary. Novel therapeutic targets that augment taxane effects are needed to improve clinical chemotherapy response in CCNE1-amplified high grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) cells. In this study, we conducted an siRNA-based kinome screen to identify modulators of mitotic progression in CCNE1-amplified HGSOC cells that may influence clinical paclitaxel response. PLK1 is overexpressed in many types of cancer, which correlates with poor prognosis. Here, we identified a novel synthetic lethal interaction of the clinical PLK1 inhibitor BI6727 and the microtubule-targeting drug paclitaxel in HGSOC cell lines with CCNE1-amplification and elucidated the underlying molecular mechanisms of this synergism. BI6727 synergistically induces apoptosis together with paclitaxel in different cell lines including a patient-derived primary ovarian cancer culture. Moreover, the inhibition of PLK1 reduced the paclitaxel-induced neurotoxicity in a neurite outgrowth assay. Mechanistically, the combinatorial treatment with BI6727/paclitaxel triggers mitotic arrest, which initiates mitochondrial apoptosis by inactivation of anti-apoptotic BCL-2 family proteins, followed by significant loss of the mitochondrial membrane potential and activation of caspase-dependent effector pathways. This conclusion is supported by data showing that BI6727/paclitaxel-co-treatment stabilizes FBW7, a component of SCF-type ubiquitin ligases that bind and regulate key modulators of cell division and growth including MCL-1 and Cyclin E. This identification of a novel synthetic lethality of PLK1 inhibitors and a microtubule-stabilizing drug has important implications for developing PLK1 inhibitor-based combination treatments in CCNE1-amplified HGSOC cells.

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