Purpose: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a predominantly fatal common malignancy with inadequate treatment options. Glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK-3β) is an emerging target in human malignancies including PDAC.Experimental Design: Pancreatic cancer cell lines and patient-derived xenografts were treated with a novel GSK-3 inhibitor 9-ING-41 alone or in combination with chemotherapy. Activation of the DNA damage response pathway and S-phase arrest induced by gemcitabine were assessed in pancreatic tumor cells with pharmacologic inhibition or siRNA depletion of GSK-3 kinases by immunoblotting, flow cytometry, and immunofluorescence.
Results: 9-ING-41 treatment significantly increased pancreatic tumor cell killing when combined with chemotherapy. Inhibition of GSK-3 by 9-ING-41 prevented gemcitabine-induced S-phase arrest suggesting an impact on the ATR-mediated DNA damage response. Both 9-ING-41 and siRNA depletion of GSK-3 kinases impaired the activation of ATR leading to the phosphorylation and activation of Chk1. Mechanistically, depletion or knockdown of GSK-3 kinases resulted in the degradation of the ATR-interacting protein TopBP1, thus limiting the activation of ATR in response to single-strand DNA damage.
Conclusions: These data identify a previously unknown role for GSK-3 kinases in the regulation of the TopBP1/ATR/Chk1 DNA damage response pathway. The data also support the inclusion of patients with PDAC in clinical studies of 9-ING-41 alone and in combination with gemcitabine.
©2019 American Association for Cancer Research.