Inhibition of autophagy as a strategy to augment radiosensitization by the dual phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitor NVP-BEZ235

George J Cerniglia, Jayashree Karar, Sonia Tyagi, Melpo Christofidou-Solomidou, Ramesh Rengan, Constantinos Koumenis, Amit Maity
Molecular Pharmacology 2012, 82 (6): 1230-40
We investigated the effect of 2-methyl-2-{4-[3-methyl-2-oxo-8-(quinolin-3-yl)-2,3-dihydro-1H-imidazo[4,5-c]quinolin-1-yl]phenyl} propanenitrile (NVP-BEZ235) (Novartis, Basel Switzerland), a dual phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor currently being tested in phase I clinical trials, in radiosensitization. NVP-BEZ235 radiosensitized a variety of cancer cell lines, including SQ20B head and neck carcinoma cells and U251 glioblastoma cells. NVP-BEZ235 also increased in vivo radiation response in SQ20B xenografts. Knockdown of Akt1, p110α, or mTOR resulted in radiosensitization, but not to the same degree as with NVP-BEZ235. NVP-BEZ235 interfered with DNA damage repair after radiation as measured by the CometAssay and resolution of phosphorylated H2A histone family member X foci. NVP-BEZ235 abrogated the radiation-induced phosphorylation of both DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) and ataxia telangiectasia mutated. Knockdown of either p110α or mTOR failed to decrease the phosphorylation of DNA-PKcs, suggesting that the effect of the drug was direct rather than mediated via p110α or mTOR. The treatment of cells with NVP-BEZ235 also promoted autophagy. To assess the importance of this process in radiosensitization, we used the autophagy inhibitors 3-methyladenine and chloroquine and found that either drug increased cell killing after NVP-BEZ235 treatment and radiation. Knocking down the essential autophagy proteins autophagy related 5 (ATG5) and beclin1 increased NVP-BEZ235-mediated radiosensitization. Furthermore, NVP-BEZ235 radiosensitized autophagy-deficient ATG5(-/-) fibroblasts to a greater extent than ATG5(+/+) cells. We conclude that NVP-BEZ235 radiosensitizes cells and induces autophagy by apparently distinct mechanisms. Inhibiting autophagy via pharmacologic or genetic means increases radiation killing after NVP-BEZ235 treatment; hence, autophagy seems to be cytoprotective in this situation. Our data offer a rationale for combining NVP-BEZ235 along with an autophagy inhibitor (i.e., chloroquine) and radiation in future clinical trials.

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