Autophagy induction contributes to GDC-0349 resistance in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cells

Dysregulation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling contributes to head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) tumorigenesis and progression. In the current study, we tested the anti-HNSCC cell activity by GDC-0349, a selective ATP-competitive inhibitor of mTOR. We showed that GDC-0349 inhibited proliferation of established and primary human HNSCC cells bearing high-level of p-AKT/p-S6K. Further, it induced caspase-dependent apoptosis in the HNSCC cells. GDC-0349 blocked mTORC1 and mTORC2 activation, yet it simultaneously induced autophagy activation in HNSCC cells. The latter was evidenced by induction of LC3B-II, Beclin-1 and Autophagy-related (ATG)-7, as well as downregulation of p62. Autophagy inhibitors (3-methyladenine and bafilomycin A1) or ATG-7 siRNA dramatically potentiated GDC-0349's cytotoxicity against HNSCC cells. Intriguingly, we showed that ceramide (C14), a pro-apoptotic sphingolipid, also induced ATG-7 degradation, and sensitized HNSCC cells to GDC-0349. Collectively, the preclinical study provided evidences to support GDC-0349 as a promising anti-HNSCC agent. GDC-0349 sensitization may be achieved via autophagy inhibition.

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S8040 GDC-0349 GDC-0349 is a potent and selective ATP-competitive inhibitor of mTOR with Ki of 3.8 nM, 790-fold inhibitory effect against PI3Kα and other 266 kinases. Phase 1. (1) (1)

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