UCN-01 enhances cytotoxicity of irinotecan in colorectal cancer stem-like cells by impairing DNA damage response
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Michele Signore1,*, Mariachiara Buccarelli1,*, Emanuela Pilozzi2, Gabriele De Luca1, Marianna Cappellari1, Maurizio Fanciulli3, Frauke Goeman3, Elisa Melucci3, Mauro Biffoni1,§, Lucia Ricci-Vitiani1,§
1Department of Hematology, Oncology and Molecular Medicine, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy
2Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Sant'Andrea Hospital, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
3Scientific Direction, Regina Elena National Cancer Institute, Rome, Italy
*These authors have contributed equally to this work
§These two authors shared senior authorship
Michele Signore, email: email@example.com
Lucia Ricci-Vitiani, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keywords: colorectal cancer stem-like cells, kinase inhibitors, Chk1, DNA damage, phospho-proteomics
Received: October 13, 2015 Accepted: May 13, 2016 Published: June 6, 2016
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common and lethal cancers worldwide. Despite recent progress, the prognosis of advanced stage CRC remains poor, mainly because of cancer recurrence and metastasis. The high morbidity and mortality of CRC has been recently ascribed to a small population of tumor cells that hold the potential of tumor initiation, i.e. cancer stem cells (CSCs), which play a pivotal role in cancer recurrence and metastasis and are not eradicated by current therapy. We screened CRC-SCs in vitro with a library of protein kinase inhibitors and showed that CRC-SCs are resistant to specific inhibition of the major signaling pathways involved in cell survival and proliferation. Nonetheless, broad-spectrum inhibition by the staurosporin derivative UCN-01 blocks CRC-SC growth and potentiates the activity of irinotecan in vitro and in vivo CRC-SC-derived models. Reverse-Phase Protein Microarrays (RPPA) revealed that, albeit CRC-SCs display individual phospho-proteomic profiles, sensitivity of CRC-SCs to UCN-01 relies on the interference with the DNA damage response mediated by Chk1. Combination of LY2603618, a specific Chk1/2 inhibitor, with irinotecan resulted in a significant reduction of CRC-SC growth in vivo, confirming that irinotecan treatment coupled to inhibition of Chk1 represents a potentially effective therapeutic approach for CRC treatment.
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