Chk1 inhibition and Wee1 inhibition combine synergistically to impede cellular proliferation

Cancer Biol Ther. 2011 Nov 1;12(9):788-96. doi: 10.4161/cbt.12.9.17673. Epub 2011 Nov 1.


Inhibition of the checkpoint kinase Chk1, both as a monotherapy and in combination with DNA damaging cytotoxics, is a promising therapeutic approach for the treatment of a wide array of human cancers. However, much remains to be elucidated in regard to the patient populations that will respond best to a Chk1 inhibitor and the optimal therapeutics to combine with a Chk1 inhibitor. In an effort to discover sensitizing mutations and novel combination strategies for Chk1 inhibition, an siRNA screen was performed in combination with the selective Chk1 inhibitor AR458323. This screen employed a custom made library of siRNAs targeting 195 genes, most of which are involved in cell-cycle control or DNA damage repair. One of the most prominent and consistent hits across runs of the screen performed in three different cancer cell lines was Wee1 kinase. MK-1775 is a small molecule inhibitor of Wee1 that is currently in early stage clinical trials. In confirmation of the results obtained from the siRNA screen, AR458323 and MK-1775 synergistically inhibited proliferation in multiple cancer cell types. This antiproliferative effect correlated with a synergistic induction of apoptosis. In cellular mechanistic studies, the combination of the two molecules resulted in dramatic decreases in inhibitory phosphorylation of cyclin-dependent kinases, an increase in DNA damage, alterations in cell-cycle profile, and collapse of DNA synthesis. In conclusion, the clinical combination of a Chk1 inhibitor and a Wee1 inhibitor holds promise as an effective treatment strategy for cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Checkpoint Kinase 1
  • DNA Replication / drug effects
  • Drug Synergism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology*
  • Pyrimidines / pharmacology*
  • Pyrimidinones
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Pyrazoles
  • Pyrimidines
  • Pyrimidinones
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Protein Kinases
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • WEE1 protein, human
  • CHEK1 protein, human
  • Checkpoint Kinase 1
  • adavosertib