A screening-based approach identifies cell cycle regulators AURKA, CHK1 and PLK1 as targetable regulators of chondrosarcoma cell survival

Chondrosarcomas are malignant cartilage tumors that are relatively resistant towards conventional therapeutic approaches. Kinase inhibitors have been investigated and shown successful for several different cancer types. In this study we aimed at identifying kinase inhibitors that inhibit the survival of chondrosarcoma cells and thereby serve as new potential therapeutic strategies to treat chondrosarcoma patients. An siRNA screen targeting 779 different kinases was conducted in JJ012 chondrosarcoma cells in parallel with a compound screen consisting of 273 kinase inhibitors in JJ012, SW1353 and CH2879 chondrosarcoma cell lines. AURKA, CHK1 and PLK1 were identified as most promising targets and validated further in a more comprehensive panel of chondrosarcoma cell lines. Dose response curves were performed using tyrosine kinase inhibitors: MK-5108 (AURKA), LY2603618 (CHK1) and Volasertib (PLK1) using viability assays and cell cycle analysis. Apoptosis was measured at 24 h after treatment using a caspase 3/7 assay. Finally, chondrosarcoma patient samples (N = =34) were used to examine the correlation between AURKA, CHK1 and PLK1 RNA expression and documented patient survival. Dose dependent decreases in viability were observed in chondrosarcoma cell lines after treatment with MK-5108, LY2603618 and volasertib, with cell lines showing highest sensitivity to PLK1 inhibition. In addition increased sensitivity to conventional chemotherapy was observed after CHK1 inhibition in a subset of the cell lines. Interestingly, whereas AURKA and CHK1 were both expressed in chondrosarcoma patient samples, PLK1 expression was found to be low compared to normal cartilage. Analysis of patient samples revealed that high CHK1 RNA expression correlated with a worse overall survival. AURKA, CHK1 and PLK1 are identified as important survival genes in chondrosarcoma cell lines. Although further research is needed to validate these findings, inhibiting CHK1 seems to be the most promising potential therapeutic target for patients with chondrosarcoma.

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