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Oncogenesis. 2012 Jun 4;1:e12. doi: 10.1038/oncsis.2012.12.

Activation of the AKT/cyclin D1/Cdk4 survival signaling pathway in radioresistant cancer stem cells.

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Department of Pathology, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan.


Radioresistance, which is a major cause of failure of radiotherapy (RT), is proposed as one of the intrinsic characteristics of cancer stem cells (CSCs) whose unique DNA damage response (DDR), efficient DNA repair and resistance to apoptosis are thought to confer the phenotype. We have isolated surviving CSCs by exposure to long-term fractionated radiation for 82 days from HepG2 and A172 cells (82FR-31NR cells). 82FR-31NR cells exhibited CSC properties, such as high expression of CSC marker CD133 and the ABC transporters (MDR1 and BCRP1), and high tumorigenic potential after transplantation into nude mice. The advantage of our isolated CSCs is that they can proliferate in as the same growth medium as that of parental cells without loss of CSC properties. Therefore, we can analyze DDR of non-stem cells and CSCs without any influences caused by different culture conditions. 82FR-31NR cells showed efficient DNA repair of radiation-induced DNA damage and radioresistance with activation of the AKT/cyclin D1 survival signaling pathway. In contrast, DNA damage persisted for a long time after irradiation in parental cells compared with isolated CSCs. Persisted DNA damage induced apoptosis in parental cells without activation of the AKT/cyclin D1 pathway. Therefore, inhibition of the AKT/cyclin D1 pathway by an AKT inhibitor, API-2, or cyclin D1 siRNA resulted in a loss of efficient DNA repair and radiosensitization of 82FR-31NR cells. Furthermore, knockdown of Cdk4 by its siRNA or a Cdk4 inhibitor was sufficient to suppress radioresistance of CSCs. In this study, we present a newly discovered DDR regarding the AKT/cyclin D1/Cdk4 pathway in response to radiation in CSCs. Combination of fractionated RT and reagents targeting the AKT/cyclin D1/Cdk4 pathway to eradicate CSCs would be effective therapeutic modality.

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