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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jul 31;109(31):12722-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1202492109. Epub 2012 Jul 16.

Dual blockade of lipid and cyclin-dependent kinases induces synthetic lethality in malignant glioma.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Malignant glioma, the most common primary brain tumor, is generally incurable. Although phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) signaling features prominently in glioma, inhibitors generally block proliferation rather than induce apoptosis. Starting with an inhibitor of both lipid and protein kinases that induced prominent apoptosis and that failed early clinical development because of its broad target profile and overall toxicity, we identified protein kinase targets, the blockade of which showed selective synthetic lethality when combined with PI3K inhibitors. Prioritizing protein kinase targets for which there are clinical inhibitors, we demonstrate that cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)1/2 inhibitors, siRNAs against CDK1/2, and the clinical CDK1/2 inhibitor roscovitine all cooperated with the PI3K inhibitor PIK-90, blocking the antiapoptotic protein Survivin and driving cell death. In addition, overexpression of CDKs partially blocked some of the apoptosis caused by PIK-75. Roscovitine and PIK-90, in combination, were well tolerated in vivo and acted in a synthetic-lethal manner to induce apoptosis in human glioblastoma xenografts. We also tested clinical Akt and CDK inhibitors, demonstrating induction of apoptosis in vitro and providing a preclinical rationale to test this combination therapy in patients.

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