Author(s): Wang WJ, Wu SP, Liu JB, Shi YS, Huang X,
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Abstract Radiotherapy is the most successful nonsurgical treatment for nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Despite this, the prognosis remains poor. Although NPCs initially respond well to a full course of radiation, recurrence is frequent. The cancer stem cell (CSC) hypothesis provides a framework for explaining the discrepancy between the response of NPC to therapy and the poor survival rate. In this study, a stem cell-like subpopulation (PKH26+) was identified in NPC cell lines using a label-retention technique. PKH26+ cells were enriched for clonogenicity, sphere formation, side-population cells, and resistance to radiotherapy. Using genomic approaches, we show that the proto-oncogene c-MYC (MYC) regulates radiotolerance through transcriptional activation of CHK1 (CHEK1) and CHK2 (CHEK2) checkpoint kinases through direct binding to the CHK1 and CHK2 promoters. Overexpression of c-MYC in the PKH26+ subpopulation leads to increased expression of CHK1 and CHK2 and subsequent activation of the DNA-damage-checkpoint response, resulting in radioresistance. Furthermore, loss of CHK1 and CHK2 expression reverses radioresistance in PKH26+ (c-MYC high expression) cells in vitro and in vivo. This study elucidates the role of the c-MYC-CHK1/CHK2 axis in regulating DNA-damage-checkpoint responses and stem cell characteristics in the PKH26+ subpopulation. Furthermore, these data reveal a potential therapeutic application in reversal of radioresistance through inhibition of the c-MYC-CHK1/CHK2 pathway.
This article was published in Cancer Res
and referenced in Biology and Medicine