Therapeutic targeting of Polo-like kinase-1 and Aurora kinases in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Antonino Maria Spartà, Daniela Bressanin, Francesca Chiarini, Annalisa Lonetti, Alessandra Cappellini, Cecilia Evangelisti, Camilla Evangelisti, Fraia Melchionda, Andrea Pession, Alice Bertaina, Franco Locatelli, James A. McCubrey, Alberto M. Martelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Polo-like kinases (PLKs) and Aurora kinases (AKs) act as key cell cycle regulators in healthy human cells. In cancer, these protein kinases are often overexpressed and dysregulated, thus contributing to uncontrolled cell proliferation and growth. T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is a heterogeneous malignancy arising in the thymus from T-cell progenitors. Primary chemoresistant and relapsed T-ALL patients have yet a poor outcome, therefore novel therapies, targeting signaling pathways important for leukemic cell proliferation, are required. Here, we demonstrate the potential therapeutic effects of BI6727, MK-5108, and GSK1070916, three selective inhibitors of PLK1, AK-A, and AK-B/C, respectively, in a panel of T-ALL cell lines and primary cells from T-ALL patients. The drugs were both cytostatic and cytotoxic to T-ALL cells by inducing G2/M-phase arrest and apoptosis. The drugs retained part of their pro-apoptotic activity in the presence of MS-5 bone marrow stromal cells. Moreover, we document for the first time that BI6727 perturbed both the PI3K/Akt/mTORC2 and the MEK/ERK/mTORC1 signaling pathways, and that a combination of BI6727 with specific inhibitors of the aforementioned pathways (MK-2206, CCI-779) displayed significantly synergistic cytotoxic effects. Taken together, our findings indicate that PLK1 and AK inhibitors display the potential for being employed in innovative therapeutic strategies for improving T-ALL patient outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2237-2247
Number of pages11
JournalCell Cycle
Volume13
Issue number14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 15 2014

Keywords

  • Apoptosis
  • Aurora kinases
  • Caspases
  • Cell cycle
  • MEK/ERK/mTORC1
  • PI3K/Akt/mTORC2
  • Polo-like kinases
  • T-ALL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology

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