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Nat Commun. 2011 Jul 19;2:395. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1395.

Toxicity modelling of Plk1-targeted therapies in genetically engineered mice and cultured primary mammalian cells.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University, Theodor-Stern-Kai 7, 60590 Frankfurt, Germany.


High attrition rates of novel anti-cancer drugs highlight the need for improved models to predict toxicity. Although polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) inhibitors are attractive candidates for drug development, the role of Plk1 in primary cells remains widely unexplored. Therefore, we evaluated the utility of an RNA interference-based model to assess responses to an inducible knockdown (iKD) of Plk1 in adult mice. Here we show that Plk1 silencing can be achieved in several organs, although adverse events are rare. We compared responses in Plk1-iKD mice with those in primary cells kept under controlled culture conditions. In contrast to the addiction of many cancer cell lines to the non-oncogene Plk1, the primary cells' proliferation, spindle assembly and apoptosis exhibit only a low dependency on Plk1. Responses to Plk1-depletion, both in cultured primary cells and in our iKD-mouse model, correspond well and thus provide the basis for using validated iKD mice in predicting responses to therapeutic interventions.

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