Research Papers:

Wee1 is required to sustain ATR/Chk1 signaling upon replicative stress

Priyanka Saini, Yizhu Li and Matthias Dobbelstein _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:13072-13087. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.3865

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Priyanka Saini1, Yizhu Li1 and Matthias Dobbelstein1

1 Institute of Molecular Oncology, Göttingen Centre of Molecular Biosciences (GZMB), Faculty of Medicine, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany

Correspondence to:

Matthias Dobbelstein, email:

Keywords: Wee1, ATR signaling pathway, replicative stress, checkpoint kinases, gemcitabine

Received: December 05, 2014 Accepted: March 31, 2015 Published: April 19, 2015


The therapeutic efficacy of nucleoside analogues, e.g. gemcitabine, against cancer cells can be augmented by inhibitors of checkpoint kinases, including Wee1, ATR, and Chk1. We have compared the chemosensitizing effect of these inhibitors in cells derived from pancreatic cancer, a tumor entity where gemcitabine is part of the first-line therapeutic regimens, and in osteosarcoma-derived cells. As expected, all three inhibitors rendered cancer cells more sensitive to gemcitabine, but Wee1 inhibition proved to be particularly efficient in this context. Investigating the reasons for this potent sensitizing effect, we found that Wee1 inhibition or knockdown not only blocked Wee1 activity, but also reduced the activation of ATR/Chk1 in gemcitabine-treated cells. Combination of several inhibitors revealed that Wee1 inhibition requires Cyclin-dependent kinases 1 and 2 (Cdk1/2) and Polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) to reduce ATR/Chk1 activity. Through activation of Cdks and Plk1, Wee1 inhibition reduces Claspin and CtIP levels, explaining the impairment in ATR/Chk1 activity. Taken together, these results confer a consistent signaling pathway reaching from Wee1 inhibition to impaired Chk1 activity, mechanistically dissecting how Wee1 inhibitors not only dysregulate cell cycle progression, but also enhance replicative stress and chemosensitivity towards nucleoside analogues.

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