Inhibition of DNA-dependent protein kinase induces accelerated senescence in irradiated human cancer cells

Arun Azad, Susan Jackson, Carleen M Cullinane, Anthony L Natoli, Paul M Neilsen, David Frederick Callen, Sauveur-Michel Maira, Wolfgang Hackl, Grant A McArthur, Benjamin J Solomon

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DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) plays a pivotal role in the repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSB) and is centrally involved in regulating cellular radiosensitivity. Here, we identify DNA-PK as a key therapeutic target for augmenting accelerated senescence in irradiated human cancer cells. We find that BEZ235, a novel inhibitor of DNA-PK and phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/mTOR, abrogates radiation-induced DSB repair resulting in cellular radiosensitization and growth delay of irradiated tumor xenografts. Importantly, radiation enhancement by BEZ235 coincides with a prominent p53-dependent accelerated senescence phenotype characterized by positive ?-galactosidase staining, G(2)-M cell-cycle arrest, enlarged and flattened cellular morphology, and increased p21 expression and senescence-associated cytokine secretion. Because this senescence response to BEZ235 is accompanied by unrepaired DNA DSBs, we examined whether selective targeting of DNA-PK also induces accelerated senescence in irradiated cells. Significantly, we show that specific pharmacologic inhibition of DNA-PK, but not PI3K or mTORC1, delays DSB repair leading to accelerated senescence after radiation. We additionally show that PRKDC knockdown using siRNA promotes a striking accelerated senescence phenotype in irradiated cells comparable with that of BEZ235. Thus, in the context of radiation treatment, our data indicate that inhibition of DNA-PK is sufficient for the induction of accelerated senescence. These results validate DNA-PK as an important therapeutic target in irradiated cancer cells and establish accelerated senescence as a novel mechanism of radiosensitization induced by DNA-PK blockade.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1696 - 1707
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Cancer Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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