Enhanced radiosensitization of human glioma cells by combining inhibition of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase with inhibition of heat shock protein 90

Mol Cancer Ther. 2009 Aug;8(8):2243-54. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-09-0201. Epub 2009 Aug 11.


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) are the most common primary brain tumor and are resistant to standard therapies. The nondividing nature of normal brain provides an opportunity to enhance the therapeutic ratio by combining radiation with inhibitors of replication-specific DNA repair pathways. Based on our previous findings that inhibition of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) increases radiosensitivity of human glioma cells in a replication-dependent manner and generates excess DNA breaks that are repaired by homologous recombination (HR), we hypothesized that inhibition of HR would amplify the replication-specific radiosensitizing effects of PARP inhibition. Specific inhibitors of HR are not available, but the heat shock protein 90 inhibitor 17-allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG) has been reported to inhibit HR function. The radiosensitizing effects of 17-AAG and the PARP inhibitor olaparib were assessed, and the underlying mechanisms explored. 17-AAG down-regulated Rad51 and BRCA2 protein levels, abrogated induction of Rad51 foci by radiation, and inhibited HR measured by the I-Sce1 assay. Individually, 17-AAG and olaparib had modest, replication-dependent radiosensitizing effects on T98G glioma cells. Additive radiosensitization was observed with combination treatment, mirrored by increases in gammaH2AX foci in G(2)-phase cells. Unlike olaparib, 17-AAG did not increase radiation sensitivity of Chinese hamster ovary cells, indicating tumor specificity. However, 17-AAG also enhanced radiosensitivity in HR-deficient cells, indicating that its effects were only partially mediated by HR inhibition. Additional mechanisms are likely to include destabilization of oncoproteins that are up-regulated in GBM. 17-AAG is therefore a tumor-specific, replication-dependent radiosensitizer that enhances the effects of PARP inhibition. This combination has therapeutic potential in the management of GBM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzoquinones / pharmacology
  • Brain Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Brain Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • CHO Cells
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Glioblastoma / enzymology
  • Glioblastoma / radiotherapy*
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Lactams, Macrocyclic / pharmacology
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors*
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases / metabolism
  • Radiation Tolerance
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents*
  • Recombination, Genetic


  • Benzoquinones
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Lactams, Macrocyclic
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents
  • tanespimycin
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases