Purpose: DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PK) is a pleiotropic kinase involved in DNA repair and transcriptional regulation. DNA-PK is deregulated in selected cancer types and is strongly associated with poor outcome. The underlying mechanisms by which DNA-PK promotes aggressive tumor phenotypes are not well understood. Here, unbiased molecular investigation in clinically relevant tumor models reveals novel functions of DNA-PK in cancer. Experimental Design: DNA-PK function was modulated using both genetic and pharmacologic methods in a series of in vitro models, in vivo xenografts, and patient-derived explants (PDE), and the impact on the downstream signaling and cellular cancer phenotypes was discerned. Data obtained were used to develop novel strategies for combinatorial targeting of DNA-PK and hormone signaling pathways. Results: Key findings reveal that (i) DNA-PK regulates tumor cell proliferation; (ii) pharmacologic targeting of DNA-PK suppresses tumor growth both in vitro, in vivo, and ex vivo; (iii) DNA-PK transcriptionally regulates the known DNA-PK-mediated functions as well as novel cancer-related pathways that promote tumor growth; (iv) dual targeting of DNA-PK/TOR kinase (TORK) transcriptionally upregulates androgen signaling, which can be mitigated using the androgen receptor (AR) antagonist enzalutamide; (v) cotargeting AR and DNA-PK/TORK leads to the expansion of antitumor effects, uncovering the modulation of novel, highly relevant protumorigenic cancer pathways; and (viii) cotargeting DNA-PK/TORK and AR has cooperative growth inhibitory effects in vitro and in vivo. Conclusions: These findings uncovered novel DNA-PK transcriptional regulatory functions and led to the development of a combinatorial therapeutic strategy for patients with advanced prostate cancer, currently being tested in the clinical setting.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research