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Blood. 2012 Mar 22;119(12):2863-72. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-07-367557. Epub 2012 Jan 20.

RNAi screening of the kinome with cytarabine in leukemias.

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Division of Hematology and Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ 85259, USA.


To identify rational therapeutic combinations with cytarabine (Ara-C), we developed a high-throughput, small-interference RNA (siRNA) platform for myeloid leukemia cells. Of 572 kinases individually silenced in combination with Ara-C, silencing of 10 (1.7%) and 8 (1.4%) kinases strongly increased Ara-C activity in TF-1 and THP-1 cells, respectively. The strongest molecular concepts emerged around kinases involved in cell-cycle checkpoints and DNA-damage repair. In confirmatory siRNA assays, inhibition of WEE1 resulted in more potent and universal sensitization across myeloid cell lines than siRNA inhibition of PKMYT1, CHEK1, or ATR. Treatment of 8 acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) cell lines with commercial and the first-in-class clinical WEE1 kinase inhibitor MK1775 confirmed sensitization to Ara-C up to 97-fold. Ex vivo, adding MK1775 substantially reduced viability in 13 of 14 AML, CML, and myelodysplastic syndrome patient samples compared with Ara-C alone. Maximum sensitization occurred at lower to moderate concentrations of both drugs. Induction of apoptosis was increased using a combination of Ara-C and MK1775 compared with using either drug alone. WEE1 is expressed in primary AML, ALL, and CML specimens. Data from this first siRNA-kinome sensitizer screen suggests that inhibiting WEE1 in combination with Ara-C is a rational combination for the treatment of myeloid and lymphoid leukemias.

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