The pyridinylfuranopyrimidine inhibitor, PI-103, chemosensitizes glioblastoma cells for apoptosis by inhibiting DNA repair

Oncogene. 2009 Oct 8;28(40):3586-96. doi: 10.1038/onc.2009.215. Epub 2009 Jul 27.


The failure of conventional therapies in glioblastoma (GBM) is largely due to an aberrant activity of survival cascades, such as PI3 kinase (PI3K)/Akt-mediated signaling. This study is the first to show that the class I PI3K inhibitor, PI-103, enhances chemotherapy-induced cell death of GBM cells. Concurrent treatment with PI-103 and DNA-damaging drugs, in particular doxorubicin, significantly increases apoptosis and reduces colony formation compared with chemotherapy treatment alone. The underlying molecular mechanism for this chemosensitization was shown by two independent approaches, that is, pharmacological and genetic inhibition of PI3K, DNA-PK and mTOR, to involve inhibition of DNA-PK-mediated DNA repair. Accordingly, blockage of PI3K or DNA-PK, but not of mTOR, significantly delays the resolution of doxorubicin-induced DNA damage and concomitantly increases apoptosis. Importantly, not only are several GBM cell lines chemosensitized by PI-103 but also GBM stem cells. Clinical relevance was further confirmed by the use of primary cultured GBM cells, which also exhibit increased cell death and reduced colony formation on combined treatment with PI-103 and doxorubicin. By identifying class I PI3K inhibitors as powerful agents in enhancing the lethality of DNA-damaging drugs, to which GBMs are usually considered unresponsive, our findings have important implications for the design of rational combination regimens in overcoming the frequent chemoresistance of GBM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chromones / pharmacology
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair / drug effects*
  • DNA-Activated Protein Kinase / physiology
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacology
  • Furans / pharmacology*
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Glioblastoma / pathology
  • Histones / genetics
  • Humans
  • Morpholines / pharmacology
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / physiology
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors*
  • Pyridines / pharmacology*
  • Pyrimidines / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Chromones
  • Furans
  • H2AX protein, human
  • Histones
  • Morpholines
  • PI103
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • Pyridines
  • Pyrimidines
  • 2-(4-morpholinyl)-8-phenyl-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one
  • Doxorubicin
  • DNA-Activated Protein Kinase