Non-specific chemical inhibition of the Fanconi anemia pathway sensitizes cancer cells to cisplatin
1 Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, MD, USA
2 Division of Human Biology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA
3 Division of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA
4 Division of Clinical Research, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA
5 Department of Radiation Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Molecular Cancer 2012, 11:26 doi:10.1186/1476-4598-11-26Published: 26 April 2012
Platinum compounds such as cisplatin and carboplatin are DNA crosslinking agents widely used for cancer chemotherapy. However, the effectiveness of platinum compounds is often tempered by the acquisition of cellular drug resistance. Until now, no pharmacological approach has successfully overcome cisplatin resistance in cancer treatment. Since the Fanconi anemia (FA) pathway is a DNA damage response pathway required for cellular resistance to DNA interstrand crosslinking agents, identification of small molecules that inhibit the FA pathway may reveal classes of chemicals that sensitize cancer cells to cisplatin.
Through a cell-based screening assay of over 16,000 chemicals, we identified 26 small molecules that inhibit ionizing radiation and cisplatin-induced FANCD2 foci formation, a marker of FA pathway activity, in multiple human cell lines. Most of these small molecules also compromised ionizing radiation-induced RAD51 foci formation and homologous recombination repair, indicating that they are not selective toward the regulation of FANCD2. These compounds include known inhibitors of the proteasome, cathepsin B, lysosome, CHK1, HSP90, CDK and PKC, and several uncharacterized chemicals including a novel proteasome inhibitor (Chembridge compound 5929407).
Isobologram analyses demonstrated that half of the identified molecules sensitized ovarian cancer cells to cisplatin. Among them, 9 demonstrated increased efficiency toward FA pathway-proficient, cisplatin-resistant ovarian cancer cells. Six small molecules, including bortezomib (proteasome inhibitor), CA-074-Me (cathepsin B inhibitor) and 17-AAG (HSP90 inhibitor), synergized with cisplatin specifically in FA-proficient ovarian cancer cells (2008 + FANCF), but not in FA-deficient isogenic cells (2008). In addition, geldanamycin (HSP90 inhibitor) and two CHK1 inhibitors (UCN-01 and SB218078) exhibited a significantly stronger synergism with cisplatin in FA-proficient cells when compared to FA-deficient cells, suggesting a contribution of their FA pathway inhibitory activity to cisplatin sensitization.
Our findings suggest that, despite their lack of specificity, pharmaceutical inhibition of the FA pathway by bortezomib, CA-074-Me, CHK1 inhibitors or HSP90 inhibitors may be a promising strategy to sensitize cisplatin-resistant, FA pathway-proficient tumor cells to cisplatin. In addition, we identified four new small molecules which synergize with cisplatin. Further development of their analogs and evaluation of their combination with cisplatin may lead to the development of efficient cancer treatments.