The relationship of premature mitosis to cytotoxicity in response to checkpoint abrogation and antimetabolite treatment

Cell Cycle. 2006 Sep;5(17):1983-8. doi: 10.4161/cc.5.17.3184. Epub 2006 Sep 1.


Inhibition of one or both of the checkpoint kinases, Chk1 and Chk2, has been proposed as a strategy for improving the efficacy of cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agents in tumor cells. Previous studies have demonstrated that Chk1 inhibition potentiates the cytotoxicity of chemotherapeutic agents in a variety of systems. We designed a study to test whether the simultaneous depletion of Chk1 and Chk2 would sensitize cells to FdUrd- and gemcitabine-induced cytotoxicity to a greater extent than Chk1 depletion alone and to determine the contribution of premature mitosis to cytotoxicity. We found that RNAi-mediated Chk1 depletion enhanced FdUrd- and gemcitabine-mediated cytotoxicity (2- to 3-fold) in Panc-1 and SW620 cells. Furthermore, enhanced cytotoxicity by Chk1 depletion was accompanied by inhibition of FdUrd- or gemcitabine-induced Cdc25A degradation and induction of premature mitotic entry in drug-treated cells. The simultaneous depletion of Chk1 and Chk2 inhibited Cdc25A degradation, induced premature mitotic entry and enhanced cytotoxicity in response to FdUrd and gemcitabine to a similar extent as Chk1 depletion alone. These results imply that Chk2 inhibition has no immediate consequence on survival or cell cycle progression in tumor cells treated with antimetabolites, regardless of their Chk1 status. In addition, these results suggest that premature mitotic entry is a qualitative marker for enhanced antimetabolite-induced cytotoxicity by Chk1 inhibition. The finding that Chk1 inhibition significantly enhanced antimetabolite-induced cytotoxicity supports further investigation and the development of more specific Chk1 inhibitors for use in the clinic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / toxicity*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Checkpoint Kinase 1
  • Checkpoint Kinase 2
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives
  • Deoxycytidine / toxicity
  • Floxuridine / toxicity
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mitosis*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / toxicity
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • RNA Interference


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Histones
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Floxuridine
  • Deoxycytidine
  • gemcitabine
  • Protein Kinases
  • Checkpoint Kinase 2
  • CHEK1 protein, human
  • CHEK2 protein, human
  • Checkpoint Kinase 1
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases