FOXO3a reactivation mediates the synergistic cytotoxic effects of rapamycin and cisplatin in oral squamous cell carcinoma cells

Liang Fang, Huiming Wang, Lin Zhou, Da Yu
Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 2011 February 15, 251 (1): 8-15
FOXO3a, a well-known transcriptional regulator, controls a wide spectrum of biological processes. The phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway inactivates FOXO3a via phosphorylation-induced nuclear exclusion and degradation. A loss or gain of FOXO3a activity has been correlated with efficiency of chemotherapies in various cancers including oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Therefore, in the current study, we have investigated the FOXO3a activity modulating and antitumor effects of rapamycin and cisplatin in OSCC cells. Cisplatin inhibited proliferation and induced apoptosis in a dose-dependent way in OSCC Tca8113 cells. Rapamycin alone had no effect on cell proliferation and apoptosis. Rapamycin downregulated the expression of S-phase kinase associated protein-2 (Skp2) and increased the FOXO3a protein stability but induced the upregulation of feedback Akt activation-mediated FOXO3a phosphorylation. Cisplatin decreased the phosphorylation of FOXO3a via Akt inhibition. Rapamycin combined with cisplatin as its feedback Akt activation inhibitor revealed the most dramatic FOXO3a nuclear localization and reactivation with the prevention of its feedback loop and exposed significant synergistic effects of decreased cell proliferation and increased apoptosis in vitro and decreased tumor size in vivo. Furthermore, the downstream effects of FOXO3a reactivation were found to be accumulation of p27 and Bim. In conclusion, rapamycin/cisplatin combination therapy boosts synergistic antitumor effects through the significant FOXO3a reactivation in OSCC cells. These results may represent a novel mechanism by which rapamycin/cisplatin combination therapy proves to be a potent molecular-targeted strategy for OSCC.

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