PLK1 inhibition sensitizes breast cancer cells to radiation via suppressing autophagy

Purpose: Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) is a protein kinase that is overexpressed in breast cancer and may represent an attractive target for breast cancer treatment. However, few studies have investigated the relationship between PLK1 and radiosensitivity in breast cancer. Here, we attempted to explore whether PLK1 inhibition could sensitize breast cancer cells to radiation.

Methods and materials: Breast cancer cells were treated with PLK1 siRNA or the PLK1-inhibitor, GSK461364. Cell proliferation were assessed using a colony formation assay. Cell cycle analyses were performed by flow cytometry. DNA damage, autophagy, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by ionizing radiation (IR) were detected by immunofluorescence, Western blot, and flow cytometry, respectively. Microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3 alpha (LC3) puncta were detected using an immunofluorescence assay. A clonogenic survival assay was used to determine the effect of PLK1 inhibition on cell radiosensitivity. A xenograft mouse model of breast cancer cells was used to investigate the potential synergistic effects of PLK1 inhibition and IR in vivo. Finally, the expression of PLK1 and LC3 in the breast cancer tissues was evaluated by immunohistochemistry (IHC).

Results: PLK1 inhibition significantly suppressed the proliferation and increased the radiosensitivity of breast cancer cells. Pharmacological inhibition of PLK1 by the selective inhibitor, GSK461364, enhanced the radiosensitivity of breast cancer cells in vivo (N=4, P=0.002). Mechanistically, PLK1 inhibition led to the downregulation of radiation-induced ROS and autophagy, thereby increasing the radiosensitivity of breast cancer cells. Additionally, we detected a positive correlation between the expression of PLK1 and LC3 in human breast cancer samples (N=102, R=0.486, P=0.005).

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that PLK1 inhibition enhances the radiosensitivity of breast cancer cells in a manner associated with the suppression of radiation-induced autophagy. The inhibition of PLK1 represents a promising strategy for radiosensitizing breast cancer.

Related Products

Cat.No. Product Name Information
S2193 GSK461364 GSK461364 (GSK461364A) inhibits purified Plk1 with Ki of 2.2 nM in a cell-free assay. It is more than 1000-fold selective against Plk2/3. Phase 1.

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