Concomitant BET and MAPK Blockade for Effective Treatment of Ovarian Cancer

Oncotarget. 2016 Jan 19;7(3):2545-54. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.6309.


Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecologic malignancy, and it is imperative to develop new treatments to ameliorate patient survival. Using an anti-cancer drug library containing 180 small molecule inhibitors, we performed a high-content image-based screen and found that BET and MEK inhibitors are among the candidates which were able to effectively inhibit ovarian cancer cell growth. However, BET inhibition alone was largely cytostatic, possibly due to feedback activation of the MAPK pathway. Consequently, the combination of MEK and BET inhibitors suppressed both cell proliferation and survival, and was more efficacious than single agent. Mechanistically, BET and MEK inhibitors exerted synergistic effects on apoptosis regulators including BIM and BAD. Our findings support concomitant BET and MAPK blockade as an effective therapeutic strategy in ovarian cancer.

Keywords: BET inhibitors; MEK inhibitors; apoptosis; ovarian cancer; targeted therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects*
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays / methods
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Nuclear Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Small Molecule Libraries / pharmacology*
  • Transcription Factors / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • BRD4 protein, human
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Small Molecule Libraries
  • Transcription Factors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases