Synergistic effect of a novel autophagy inhibitor and Quizartinib enhances cancer cell death

Cell Death Dis. 2018 Jan 26;9(2):138. doi: 10.1038/s41419-017-0170-9.


Drug combinations have been increasingly applied in chemotherapy as a strategy to enhance the efficacy of anti-cancer treatment. The appropriate drug combinations may achieve synergistic effects beyond monotherapies alone. AC220 (Quizartinib), an FLT3 receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, developed for the treatment of AML, has been tested in phase II human clinical trials. However, AC220 as a monotherapy is not efficacious enough. In this study, we performed a small-molecule screening of 12 640 compounds in order to find a compound that increase the AC220 efficacy in chemotherapy. We identified that TAK-165, a HER2 inhibitor, even when used at low nanomolar doses in combination with AC220, was able to induce cell death in different cancer cells, but not in non-cancer cell lines. We showed that TAK-165 and AC220 act synergistically to downregulate key signaling pathways and potently induce cancer cell death. Furthermore, we demonstrated that TAK-165 inhibited autophagy in a HER2-independent manner. Finally, we showed that the combination of TAK-165 and AC220 induced cell death in cancer cells through the activation of chaperone-mediated autophagy. Overall, these findings support the strategy for using AC220 and an autophagy inhibitor such as TAK-165 in a combinatorial treatment to enhance the efficacy of cancer therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Autophagy / drug effects*
  • Benzothiazoles / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Drug Synergism
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Oxazoles / chemistry
  • Oxazoles / pharmacology
  • Phenylurea Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Triazoles / chemistry
  • Triazoles / pharmacology


  • Benzothiazoles
  • Oxazoles
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • TAK-165
  • Triazoles
  • quizartinib
  • ERBB2 protein, human
  • Receptor, ErbB-2