Inhibition of PERK-dependent pro-adaptive signaling pathway as a promising approach for cancer treatment

Pol Przegl Chir. 2017 Jun 30;89(3):7-10.


Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) is an organelle that is vital for cell growth and maintenance of homeostasis. Recent studies have reported that numerous human diseases, including cancer, are strictly connected to disruption of ER homeostasis. In order to counteract adverse intracellular conditions, cancer cells induce protein kinase R (PKR)-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK)-dependent, pro-adaptive unfolded protein response (UPR) signaling branches. If ER stress is severe or prolonged, pro-adaptive signaling networks are insufficient, resulting in apoptotic cell death of cancer cells. The main aim: of the study was to evaluate the biological activity of a small-molecule PERK inhibitor GSK2606414 in two cancer cell lines - human neuroblastoma (SH-SY5Y) and human colorectal adenocarcinoma (HT-29) cell lines. We analyzed the level of phosphorylation of the eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF2), which is the main substrate of PERK and a subsequent activator of UPR, which under long-term ER stress may evoke apoptotic death of cancer cells.

Material and methods: In the study, we utilized commercially available cell lines of human colorectal adenocarcinoma HT-29 and human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y. Cells were exposed to the tested PERK-dependent signaling inhibitor GSK2606414 in suitable culture media with addition of thapsigargin (500 nM) to induce ER stress. To identify the protein, Western blot with specific antibodies was used. Detection of immune complexes was performed using chemiluminescence.

Results: We found a complete inhibition of p-eIF2α expression due to the GSK2606414 inhibitor in both cell lines, SH-SY5Y and HT-29.

Conclusions: Currently available cancer treatments are insufficient and cause various side effects. It has been assumed that utilization of small-molecule inhibitors of the PERK-dependent signaling pathway, like GSK2606414, may switch the pro-adaptive branch of UPR to its pro-apoptotic branch. It is believed that the tested inhibitor GSK2606414 may become a promising treatment for many cancer types.

Keywords: GSK2606414; PERK; PERK inhibitor; apoptosis; cancer; eIF2α.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Neuroblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • eIF-2 Kinase / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • PERK kinase
  • eIF-2 Kinase