Purpose: It is known that postirradiation survival of tumor cells presenting mutated K-RAS is mediated through autocrine activation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). In this study the molecular mechanism of radioresistance of cells overexpressing mutated K-RAS(V12) was investigated.
Methods and materials: Head-and-neck cancer cells (FaDu) presenting wild-type K-RAS were transfected with empty vector or vector expressing mutated K-RAS(V12). The effect of K-RAS(V12) on autocrine production of EGFR ligands, activation of EGFR downstream pathways, DNA damage repair, and postirradiation survival was analyzed.
Results: Conditioned medium collected from K-RAS(V12)-transfected cells enhanced activation of the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase-Akt pathway and increased postirradiation survival of wild-type K-RAS parental cells when compared with controls. These effects were reversed by amphiregulin (AREG)-neutralizing antibody. In addition, secretion of the EGFR ligands AREG and transforming growth factor α was significantly increased upon overexpression of K-RAS(V12). Expression of mutated K-RAS(V12) resulted in an increase in radiation-induced DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) phosphorylation at S2056. This increase was accompanied by increased repair of DNA double-strand breaks. Abrogation of DNA-PKcs phosphorylation by serum depletion or AREG-neutralizing antibody underscored the role of autocrine production of EGFR ligands, namely, AREG, in regulating DNA-PKcs activation in K-RAS mutated cells.
Conclusions: These data indicate that radioresistance of K-RAS mutated tumor cells is at least in part due to constitutive production of EGFR ligands, which mediate enhanced repair of DNA double-strand breaks through the EGFR-phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase-Akt cascade.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.