Background: Amplification of aurora kinase A (AK-A) overrides the mitotic spindle assembly checkpoint, inducing resistance to taxanes. RNA interference targeting AK-A in human pancreatic cancer cell lines enhanced taxane chemosensitivity. In this study, a novel AK-A inhibitor, CYC3, was investigated in pancreatic cancer cell lines, in combination with paclitaxel.
Methods: Western blot, flow cytometry and immunostaining were used to investigate the specificity of CYC3. Sulforhodamine B staining, time-lapse microscopy and colony-formation assays were employed to evaluate the cytotoxic effect of CYC3 and paclitaxel. Human colony-forming unit of granulocyte and macrophage (CFU-GM) cells were used to compare the effect in tumour and normal tissue.
Results: CYC3 was shown to be a specific AK-A inhibitor. Three nanomolar paclitaxel (growth inhibition 50% (GI(50)) 3 nM in PANC-1, 5.1 nM in MIA PaCa-2) in combination with 1 μM CYC3 (GI(50) 1.1 μM in MIA PaCa2 and 2 μM in PANC-1) was synergistic in inhibiting pancreatic cell growth and causing mitotic arrest, achieving similar effects to 10-fold higher concentrations of paclitaxel (30 nM). In CFU-GM cells, the effect of the combination was simply additive, displaying significantly less myelotoxicity compared with high concentrations of paclitaxel (30 nM; 60-70% vs 100% inhibition).
Conclusion: The combination of lower doses of paclitaxel and CYC3 merits further investigation with the potential for an improved therapeutic index in vivo.