Cancer stem cells (CSC) drive growth, therapy resistance, and recurrence in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Regulation of protein translation is crucial for normal stem cells and CSCs; its inhibition could disrupt stemness properties, but translation inhibitors are limited clinically due to toxicity. SVC112 is a synthetic derivative of bouvardin, a plant-derived translation elongation inhibitor. SVC112 had greater antiproliferative effects on HNSCC cells compared with the FDA-approved translation inhibitor omacetaxine mepesuccinate (HHT). SVC112 preferentially inhibited cancer cells compared with patient-matched cancer-associated fibroblasts, whereas HHT was equally toxic to both. SVC112 reduced sphere formation by cell lines and CSCs. SVC112 alone inhibited the growth of patient-derived xenografts (PDX), and SVC112 combined with radiation resulted in tumor regression in HPV-positive and HPV-negative HNSCC PDXs. Notably, CSC depletion after SVC112 correlated with tumor response. SVC112 preferentially impeded ribosomal processing of mRNAs critical for stress response and decreased CSC-related proteins including Myc and Sox2. SVC112 increased cell-cycle progression delay and slowed DNA repair following radiation, enhancing colony and sphere formation radiation effects. In summary, these data demonstrate that SVC112 suppresses CSC-related proteins, enhances the effects of radiation, and blocks growth of HNSCC PDXs by inhibiting CSCs. SIGNIFICANCE: Inhibiting protein elongation with SVC112 reduces tumor growth in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and increases the effects of radiation by targeting the cancer stem cell pool.
©2020 American Association for Cancer Research.