Targeted Therapy with PI3K, PARP, and WEE1 Inhibitors and Radiotherapy in HPV Positive and Negative Tonsillar Squamous Cell Carcinoma Cell Lines Reveals Synergy while Effects with APR-246 Are Limited

Cancers (Basel). 2022 Dec 23;15(1):93. doi: 10.3390/cancers15010093.


Human papillomavirus positive (HPV+) tonsillar and base of tongue cancer (TSCC/BOTSCC) is rising in incidence, but chemoradiotherapy is not curative for all. Therefore, targeted therapy with PI3K (BYL719), PARP (BMN-673), and WEE1 (MK-1775) inhibitors alone or combined was pursued with or without 10 Gy and their effects were analyzed by viability, proliferation, and cytotoxicity assays on the TSCC/BOTSCC cell lines HPV+ UPCI-SCC-154 and HPV- UT-SCC-60A. Effective single drug/10 Gy combinations were validated on additional TSCC lines. Finally, APR-246 was assessed on several TSCC/BOTSCC cell lines. BYL719, BMN-673, and MK-1775 treatments induced dose dependent responses in HPV+ UPCI-SCC-154 and HPV- UT-SCC-60A and when combined with 10 Gy, synergistic effects were disclosed, as was also the case upon validation. Using BYL719/BMN-673, BYL719/MK-1775, or BMN-673/MK-1775 combinations on HPV+ UPCI-SCC-154 and HPV- UT-SCC-60A also induced synergy compared to single drug administrations, but adding 10 Gy to these synergistic drug combinations had no further major effects. Low APR-246 concentrations had limited usefulness. To conclude, synergistic effects were disclosed when complementing single BYL719 BMN-673 and MK-1775 administrations with 10 Gy or when combining the inhibitors, while adding 10 Gy to the latter did not further enhance their already additive/synergistic effects. APR-246 was suboptimal in the present context.

Keywords: APR-246; HPV; PARP inhibitors; PI3K inhibitors; WEE1 inhibitors; base of tongue cancer; head and neck cancer; oropharyngeal cancer; targeted therapy; tonsillar cancer.