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Cancer Res. 2005 Jun 1;65(11):4861-9.

Akt activation suppresses Chk2-mediated, methylating agent-induced G2 arrest and protects from temozolomide-induced mitotic catastrophe and cellular senescence.

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  • 1Department of Neurological Surgery and the Brain Tumor Research Center, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.


Pharmacologic inhibition of the DNA signal transducers Chk1 and p38 blocks G2 arrest and sensitizes glioblastoma cells to chemotherapeutic methylating agent-induced cytotoxicity. Because Akt pathway activation has been suggested to also block G2 arrest induced by DNA-damaging agents and because glioma cells frequently have high levels of Akt activation, we examined the contribution of the Akt pathway to methylating agent-induced G2 arrest and toxicity. U87MG human glioma cells containing an inducible Akt expression construct were incubated with inducing agent or vehicle, after which the cells were exposed to temozolomide and assayed for activation of the components of the G2 arrest pathway and survival. Temozolomide-treated control cells activated the DNA damage signal transducers Chk1, Chk2, and p38, leading to Cdc25C and Cdc2 inactivation, prolonged G2 arrest, and loss of clonagenicity by a combination of senescence and mitotic catastrophe. Temozolomide-treated cells induced to overexpress Akt, however, exhibited significantly less drug-induced Cdc25C/Cdc2 inactivation and less G2 arrest. Akt-mediated suppression of G2 arrest was associated not with alterations in Chk1 or p38 activation but rather with suppression of Chk2 activation and reduced recruitment of Chk2 to sites of damage in chromatin. Unlike bypass of the G2 checkpoint induced by pharmacologic inhibitors of Chk1 or p38, however, Akt-induced bypass of G2 arrest suppressed, rather than enhanced, temozolomide-induced senescence and mitotic catastrophe. These results show that whereas Akt activation suppresses temozolomide-induced Chk2 activation and G2 arrest, the overriding effect is protection from temozolomide-induced cytotoxicity. The Akt pathway therefore represents a new target for the sensitization of gliomas to chemotherapeutic methylating agents such as temozolomide.

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