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IGF1R and Src inhibition induce synergistic cytotoxicity in HNSCC through inhibition of FAK

Head and neck cancer is the sixth most common cancer worldwide with a 5-year survival of only 65%. Targeting compensatory signaling pathways may improve therapeutic responses and combat resistance. Utilizing reverse phase protein arrays (RPPA) to assess the proteome and explore mechanisms of synergistic growth inhibition in HNSCC cell lines treated with IGF1R and Src inhibitors, BMS754807 and dasatinib, respectively, we identified focal adhesion signaling as a critical node. Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) and Paxillin phosphorylation were decreased as early as 15 min after treatment, and treatment with a FAK inhibitor, PF-562,271, was sufficient to decrease viability in vitro. Treatment of 3D spheroids demonstrated robust cytotoxicity suggesting that the combination of BMS754807 and dasatinib is effective in multiple experimental models. Furthermore, treatment with BMS754807 and dasatinib significantly decreased cell motility, migration, and invasion in multiple HNSCC cell lines. Most strikingly, treatment with BMS754807 and dasatinib, or a FAK inhibitor alone, significantly increased cleaved-PARP in human ex-vivo HNSCC patient tissues demonstrating a potential clinical utility for targeting FAK or the combined targeting of the IGF1R with Src. This ex-vivo result further confirms FAK as a vital signaling node of this combinatorial treatment and demonstrates therapeutic potential for targeting FAK in HNSCC patients.

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