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Oncogene. 2001 Sep 27;20(43):6164-71.

Protection against chemotherapy-induced cytotoxicity by cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors (CKI) in CKI-responsive cells compared with CKI-unresponsive cells.

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Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Inactivation of the retinoblastoma (Rb) protein caused by gene mutation, association with oncoproteins from small DNA viruses, mutational inactivation of p16(Ink4a), or overexpression of cyclin D is a common feature of many human cancer cells and is causally associated with the aberrant proliferation control of cancer cells; whereas normal cells maintain an integrated cell cycle machinery and are subject to cell cycle checkpoint control by cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors (CKIs). To determine whether this difference can be translated into a therapeutic advantage to protect normal cells from adverse cytotoxicity caused by chemotherapy, we established cell model systems for ecdysone-inducible expression of p16(Ink4a), p21(Waf1), and p27(Kip1) in one CKI-responsive cell line (A431 human vulvar epidermoid carcinoma cells with functional Rb) and one CKI-unresponsive cell line (SiHa human cervical cancer cells with nonfunctional Rb). Expression of p16(Ink4a), p21(Waf1), or p27(Kip1) in both SiHa and A431 cells strongly inhibited CDK2 activity, indicating functional expression of the CDK inhibitors in both cell lines. However, only in A431 cells did expression of p16(Ink4a), p21(Waf1), or p27(Kip1) cause Rb dephosphorylation, arrest cell cycle traversal, and potently inhibit cell proliferation. Induction of p16(Ink4a), p21(Waf1), or p27(Kip1) in SiHa cells failed to cause Rb dephosphorylation or to arrest cell cycle traversal, and such induction only minimally inhibited cell proliferation. We then compared the chemosensitivity of clones derived from these two cell lines when the CKIs were and were not induced. Induction of p16(Ink4a), p21(Waf1), or p27(Kip1) conferred strong resistance to paclitaxel- or cisplatin-mediated cytotoxicity on the CKI-responsive A431 cells but not on the CKI-unresponsive SiHa cells. Our results support a novel chemotherapy strategy for treating patients with Rb pathway-impaired cancers by concurrent administration of chemotherapy with CKIs as chemoprotective agents for normal cells.

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