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Oncotarget. 2016 Jun 21;7(25):38191-38209. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.9501.

Dual PI3K- and mTOR-inhibitor PI-103 can either enhance or reduce the radiosensitizing effect of the Hsp90 inhibitor NVP-AUY922 in tumor cells: The role of drug-irradiation schedule.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University Hospital of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.
Fraunhofer-Institut für Biomedizinische Technik, St. Ingbert and Lehrstuhl für Molekulare und Zelluläre Biotechnologie/Nanotechnologie, Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken, Germany.
Department of Biotechnology and Biophysics, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.
Comprehensive Cancer Center Mainfranken, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.


Inhibition of Hsp90 can increase the radiosensitivity of tumor cells. However, inhibition of Hsp90 alone induces the anti-apoptotic Hsp70 and thereby decreases radiosensitivity. Therefore, preventing Hsp70 induction can be a promising strategy for radiosensitization. PI-103, an inhibitor of PI3K and mTOR, has previously been shown to suppress the up-regulation of Hsp70. Here, we explore the impact of combining PI-103 with the Hsp90 inhibitor NVP-AUY922 in irradiated glioblastoma and colon carcinoma cells. We analyzed the cellular response to drug-irradiation treatments by colony-forming assay, expression of several marker proteins, cell cycle progression and induction/repair of DNA damage. Although PI-103, given 24 h prior to irradiation, slightly suppressed the NVP-AUY922-mediated up-regulation of Hsp70, it did not cause radiosensitization and even diminished the radiosensitizing effect of NVP-AUY922. This result can be explained by the activation of PI3K and ERK pathways along with G1-arrest at the time of irradiation. In sharp contrast, PI-103 not only exerted a radiosensitizing effect but also strongly enhanced the radiosensitization by NVP-AUY922 when both inhibitors were added 3 h before irradiation and kept in culture for 24 h. Possible reasons for the observed radiosensitization under this drug-irradiation schedule may be a down-regulation of PI3K and ERK pathways during or directly after irradiation, increased residual DNA damage and strong G2/M arrest 24 h thereafter. We conclude that duration of drug treatment before irradiation plays a key role in the concomitant targeting of PI3K/mTOR and Hsp90 in tumor cells.


DNA damage; cell cycle arrest; colony survival; histone γH2AX; radiation sensitivity

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