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Cancer Sci. 2003 Oct;94(10):894-900.

Up-regulation of DNA-dependent protein kinase correlates with radiation resistance in oral squamous cell carcinoma.

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Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Ehime University School of Medicine, Shigenobu-cho, Onsen-gun, Ehime, 791-0295, Japan.


DNA-PK is a nuclear protein with serine/threonine kinase activity and forms a complex consisting of the DNA-PKcs and a heterodimer of Ku70 and Ku80 proteins. Recent laboratory experiments have demonstrated that the DNA-PK complex formation is one of the major pathways by which mammalian cells respond to DNA double-strand breaks induced by ionizing radiation. In this study, we evaluated the relationship between expression levels of DNA-PKcs, Ku70 and Ku80 proteins and radiation sensitivity in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) cell lines and in OSCC patients treated with preoperative radiation therapy. The OSCC cell lines greatly differed in their response to irradiation, as assessed by a standard colony formation assay. However, the expression levels of the DNA-PK complex proteins were all similar, and there was no association between the magnitude of their expression and the tumor radiation sensitivity. Expression of DNA-PK complex proteins increased after radiation treatment, and the increased values correlated with the tumor radiation resistance. Expression of DNA-PKcs and Ku70 after irradiation was increased in the surviving cells of OSCC tissues irradiated preoperatively. These results suggest that up-regulation of DNA-PK complex protein, especially DNA-PKcs, after radiation treatment correlates to radiation resistance. DNA-PKcs might be a molecular target for a novel radiation sensitization therapy of OSCC.

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