Mechanisms responsible for the synergistic antileukemic interactions between ATR inhibition and cytarabine in acute myeloid leukemia cells.
ABSTRACT: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) continues to be a challenging disease to treat, thus new treatment strategies are needed. In this study, we investigated the antileukemic effects of ATR inhibition alone or combined with cytarabine in AML cells. Treatment with the ATR-selective inhibitor AZ20 caused proliferation inhibition in AML cell lines and primary patient samples. It partially abolished the G2 cell cycle checkpoint and caused DNA replication stress and damage, accompanied by CDK1-independent apoptosis and downregulation of RRM1 and RRM2. AZ20 synergistically enhanced cytarabine-induced proliferation inhibition and apoptosis, abolished cytarabine-induced S and G2/M cell cycle arrest, and cooperated with cytarabine in inducing DNA replication stress and damage in AML cell lines. These key findings were confirmed with another ATR-selective inhibitor AZD6738. Therefore, the cooperative induction of DNA replication stress and damage by ATR inhibition and cytarabine, and the ability of ATR inhibition to abrogate the G2 cell cycle checkpoint both contributed to the synergistic induction of apoptosis and proliferation inhibition in AML cell lines. Synergistic antileukemic interactions between AZ20 and cytarabine were confirmed in primary AML patient samples. Our findings provide insight into the mechanism of action underlying the synergistic antileukemic activity of ATR inhibition in combination with cytarabine in AML.
Project description:To determine the possibility of synergistic antileukemic activity and the underlying molecular mechanisms associated with cytarabine combined with valproic acid (VPA; a histone deacetylase inhibitor and a Food and Drug Administration-licensed drug for treating both children and adults with epilepsy) in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML).The type and extent of antileukemic interactions between cytarabine and VPA in clinically relevant pediatric AML cell lines and diagnostic blasts from children with AML were determined by MTT assays and standard isobologram analyses. The effects of cytarabine and VPA on apoptosis and cell cycle distributions were determined by flow cytometry analysis and caspase enzymatic assays. The effects of the two agents on DNA damage and Bcl-2 family proteins were determined by Western blotting.We showed synergistic antileukemic activities between cytarabine and VPA in four pediatric AML cell lines and nine diagnostic AML blast samples. t(8;21) AML blasts were significantly more sensitive to VPA and showed far greater sensitivities to combined cytarabine and VPA than non-t(8;21) AML cases. Cytarabine and VPA cooperatively induced DNA double-strand breaks, reflected in induction of ?H2AX and apoptosis, accompanied by activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3. Further, VPA induced Bim expression and short hairpin RNA knockdown of Bim resulted in significantly decreased apoptosis induced by cytarabine and by cytarabine plus VPA.Our results establish global synergistic antileukemic activity of combined VPA and cytarabine in pediatric AML and provide compelling evidence to support the use of VPA in the treatment of children with this deadly disease.
Project description:The ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR) protein kinase promotes cancer cell survival by signaling stalled replication forks generated by replication stress, a common feature of many cancers including acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Here we show that the antileukemic activity of the chemotherapeutic nucleoside analogs hydroxyurea and gemcitabine was significantly potentiated by ATR inhibition via a mechanism involving ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) abrogation and inhibition of replication fork progression. When administered in combination with gemcitabine, an inhibitor of the M1 RNR subunit, the ATR inhibitor VX-970, eradicated disseminated leukemia in an orthotopic mouse model, eliciting long-term survival and effective cure. These data identify a synergistic interaction between ATR inhibition and RNR loss that will inform the deployment of small molecule inhibitors for the treatment of AML and other hematologic malignancies.
Project description:Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains a challenging disease to treat and urgently requires new therapies to improve its treatment outcome. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanisms underlying the cooperative antileukemic activities of panobinostat and cytarabine or daunorubicin (DNR) in AML cell lines and diagnostic blast samples in vitro and in vivo. Panobinostat suppressed expression of BRCA1, CHK1, and RAD51 in AML cells in a dose-dependent manner. Further, panobinostat significantly increased cytarabine- or DNR-induced DNA double-strand breaks and apoptosis, and abrogated S and/or G2/M cell cycle checkpoints. Analogous results were obtained by shRNA knockdown of BRCA1, CHK1, or RAD51. Cotreatment of NOD-SCID-IL2R?(null) mice bearing AML xenografts with panobinostat and cytarabine significantly increased survival compared to either cytarabine or panobinostat treatment alone. Additional studies revealed that panobinostat suppressed the expression of BRCA1, CHK1, and RAD51 through downregulation of E2F1 transcription factor. Our results establish a novel mechanism underlying the cooperative antileukemic activities of these drug combinations in which panobinostat suppresses expression of BRCA1, CHK1, and RAD51 to enhance cytarabine and daunorubicin sensitivities in AML cells.
Project description:Investigate antileukemic activity of artemisinins, artesunate (ART), and dihydroartemisinin (DHA), in combination with cytarabine, a key component of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) chemotherapy using in vitro and in vivo models.Using ten human AML cell lines, we conducted a high-throughput screen to identify antimalarial agents with antileukemic activity. We evaluated effects of ART and DHA on cell viability, cytotoxicity, apoptosis, lysosomal integrity, and combination effects with cytarabine in cell lines and primary patient blasts. In vivo pharmacokinetic studies and efficacy of single-agent ART or combination with cytarabine were evaluated in three xenograft models.ART and DHA had the most potent activity in a panel of AML cell lines, with selectivity toward samples harboring MLL rearrangements and FLT3-ITD mutations. Combination of ART or DHA was synergistic with cytarabine. Single-dose ART (120 mg/kg) produced human equivalent exposures, but multiple dose daily administration required for in vivo efficacy was not tolerated. Combination treatment produced initial regression, but did not prolong survival in vivo.The pharmacology of artemisinins is problematic and should be considered in designing AML treatment strategies with currently available agents. Artemisinins with improved pharmacokinetic properties may offer therapeutic benefit in combination with conventional therapeutic strategies in AML.
Project description:Resistance to cytarabine and anthracycline-based chemotherapy is a major cause of treatment failure for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. Overexpression of Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, and/or Mcl-1 has been associated with chemoresistance in AML cell lines and with poor clinical outcome of AML patients. Thus, inhibitors of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins could be novel therapeutic agents. In this study, we investigated how clinically achievable concentrations of obatoclax, a pan-Bcl-2 inhibitor, potentiate the antileukemic activity of cytarabine in AML cells. MTT assays in AML cell lines and diagnostic blasts, as well as flow cytometry analyses in AML cell lines revealed synergistic antileukemic activity between cytarabine and obatoclax. Bax activation was detected in the combined, but not the individual, drug treatments. This was accompanied by significantly increased loss of mitochondrial membrane potential. Most importantly, in AML cells treated with the combination, enhanced early induction of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) preceded a decrease of Mcl-1 levels, nuclear translocation of Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, and Mcl-1, and apoptosis. These results indicate that obatoclax enhances cytarabine-induced apoptosis by enhancing DNA DSBs. This novel mechanism provides compelling evidence for the clinical use of BH3 mimetics in combination with DNA-damaging agents in AML and possibly a broader range of malignancies.
Project description:CPX-351 is a liposomally encapsulated 5:1 molar ratio of cytarabine and daunorubicin that recently received regulatory approval for the treatment of therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or AML with myelodysplasia-related changes based on improved overall survival compared to standard cytarabine/daunorubicin therapy. Checkpoint kinase 1 (CHK1), which is activated by DNA damage and replication stress, diminishes sensitivity to cytarabine and anthracyclines as single agents, suggesting that CHK1 inhibitors might increase the effectiveness of CPX-351. The present studies show that CPX-351 activates CHK1 as well as the S and G2/M cell cycle checkpoints. Conversely, CHK1 inhibition diminishes the cell cycle effects of CPX-351. Moreover, CHK1 knockdown or addition of a CHK1 inhibitor such as MK-8776, rabusertib or prexasertib enhances CPX-351-induced apoptosis in multiple TP53-null and TP53-wildtype AML cell lines. Likewise, CHK1 inhibition increases the antiproliferative effect of CPX-351 on primary AML specimens ex vivo, offering the possibility that CPX-351 may be well suited to combine with CHK1-targeted agents.
Project description:Aberrantly expressed tyrosine kinases have emerged as promising targets for drug development in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We report that AKN-028, a novel tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), is a potent FMS-like receptor tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) inhibitor (IC(50)=6?nM), causing dose-dependent inhibition of FLT3 autophosphorylation. Inhibition of KIT autophosphorylation was shown in a human megakaryoblastic leukemia cell line overexpressing KIT. In a panel of 17 cell lines, AKN-028 showed cytotoxic activity in all five AML cell lines included. AKN-028 triggered apoptosis in MV4-11 by activation of caspase 3. In primary AML samples (n=15), AKN-028 induced a clear dose-dependent cytotoxic response (mean IC(50) 1??M). However, no correlation between antileukemic activity and FLT3 mutation status, or to the quantitative expression of FLT3, was observed. Combination studies showed synergistic activity when cytarabine or daunorubicin was added simultaneously or 24?h before AKN-028. In mice, AKN-028 demonstrated high oral bioavailability and antileukemic effect in primary AML and MV4-11 cells, with no major toxicity observed in the experiment. In conclusion, AKN-028 is a novel TKI with significant preclinical antileukemic activity in AML. Possible sequence-dependent synergy with standard AML drugs and good oral bioavailability has made it a candidate drug for clinical trials (ongoing).
Project description:Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a genetically heterogeneous cancer that frequently exhibits aberrant kinase signaling. We investigated a treatment strategy combining sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor with limited single-agent activity in AML, and cytarabine, a key component of AML chemotherapy.Using 10 human AML cell lines, we determined the effects of sorafenib (10 ?M) on antileukemic activity by measuring cell viability, proliferation, ERK1/2 signaling, and apoptosis. We also investigated the effects of sorafenib treatment on the accumulation of cytarabine and phosphorylated metabolites in vitro. A human equivalent dose of sorafenib in nontumor-bearing NOD-SCID-IL2R?(null) mice was determined by pharmacokinetic studies using high performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometric detection, and steady-state concentrations were estimated by the fit of a one-compartment pharmacokinetic model to concentration-time data. The antitumor activity of sorafenib alone (60 mg/kg) twice daily, cytarabine alone (6.25 mg/kg administered intraperitoneally), or sorafenib once or twice daily plus cytarabine was evaluated in NOD-SCID-IL2R?(null) mice bearing AML xenografts.Sorafenib at 10 ?M inhibited cell viability, proliferation and ERK1/2 signaling, and induced apoptosis in all cell lines studied. Sorafenib also increased the cellular accumulation of cytarabine and metabolites resulting in additive to synergistic antileukemic activity. A dose of 60 mg/kg in mice produced a human equivalent sorafenib steady-state plasma exposure of 10 ?M. The more dose-intensive twice-daily sorafenib plus cytarabine (n = 15) statistically significantly prolonged median survival in an AML xenograft model compared with sorafenib once daily plus cytarabine (n = 12), cytarabine alone (n = 26), or controls (n = 27) (sorafenib twice daily plus cytarabine, median survival = 46 days; sorafenib once daily plus cytarabine, median survival = 40 days; cytarabine alone, median survival = 36 days; control, median survival = 19 days; P < .001 for combination twice daily vs all other treatments listed).Sorafenib in combination with cytarabine resulted in strong anti-AML activity in vitro and in vivo. These results warrant clinical evaluation of sorafenib with cytarabine-based regimens in molecularly heterogeneous AML.
Project description:Mnk kinases are downstream effectors of mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways and mediate phosphorylation of the eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF4E), a protein that plays a key role in the regulation of mRNA translation and is up-regulated in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We determined the effects of chemotherapy (cytarabine) on the activation status of Mnk in AML cells and its role in the generation of antileukemic responses. A variety of experimental approaches were used, including immunoblotting, apoptosis assays, small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated knockdown of proteins, and clonogenic hematopoietic progenitor assays in methylcellulose. Cytarabine induced phosphorylation/activation of Mnk and Mnk-mediated phosphorylation of eIF4E on Ser209, as evidenced by studies involving pharmacological inhibition of Mnk or experiments using cells with targeted disruption of Mnk1 and Mnk2 genes. To assess the functional relevance of cytarabine-inducible engagement of Mnk/eIF4E pathway, the effects of pharmacological inhibition of Mnk on cytarabine-mediated suppression of primitive leukemic progenitors [leukemic colony forming unit (CFU-L)] were examined. Concomitant treatment of cells with a pharmacological inhibitor of Mnk or siRNA-mediated knockdown of Mnk1/2 strongly enhanced the suppressive effects of low cytarabine concentrations on CFU-L. It is noteworthy that the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor rapamycin also induced phosphorylation of eIF4E in a Mnk-dependent manner, whereas inhibition strongly enhanced its antileukemic effects. These data demonstrate that Mnk kinases are activated in a negative-feedback regulatory manner in response to chemotherapy and impair the generation of antileukemic responses. They also identify this pathway as a novel target for the design of new approaches to enhance the antileukemic effects of chemotherapy or mTOR inhibitors in AML.