Activation of the cellular DNA damage response (DDR) is an important determinant of cell sensitivity to cisplatin and other chemotherapeutic drugs that eliminate tumor cells through induction of DNA damage. It is therefore important to investigate whether alterations of the DNA damage-signaling pathway confer chemoresistance in cancer cells and whether pharmacologic manipulation of the DDR pathway can resensitize these cells to cancer therapy. In a panel of oral/laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) cell lines, we observed deficiencies in DNA damage signaling in correlation with cisplatin resistance, but not with DNA repair. These deficiencies are consistent with reduced expression of components of the ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM)-dependent signaling pathway and, in particular, strong upregulation of Wip1, a negative regulator of the ATM pathway. Wip1 knockdown or inhibition enhanced DNA damage signaling and resensitized oral SCC cells to cisplatin. In contrast to the previously reported involvement of Wip1 in cancer, Wip1 upregulation and function in these SCC cells is independent of p53. Finally, using xenograft tumor models, we showed that Wip1 upregulation promotes tumorigenesis and its inhibition improves the tumor response to cisplatin. Thus, this study reveals that chemoresistance in oral SCCs is partially attributed to deficiencies in DNA damage signaling, and Wip1 is an effective drug target for enhanced cancer therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research