WEE1 kinase inhibitor MK-1775 sensitizes oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma cells to radiation irrespective of TP53 status

Aisha Hussein Al-Jamaei, Jan G. A. M. de Visscher, V. Ramadugula Subramanyam, Tymour Forouzanfar, Peter Sminia, Behrouz Zandieh Doulabi, Marco N. Helder*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma (OTSCC) frequently harbors non-functional p53 and depends on G2/M checkpoint mediated by WEE1. WEE1 suppression has been identified as a promising anti-tumor strategy. This study investigated the capacity of WEE1 kinase inhibitor (MK-1775) and its underlying mechanisms in enhancing radiation responses of OTSCC cells in vitro. Materials and methods: WEE1 kinase expression and its downstream target (CDK1) were investigated in OTSCC versus normal oral tissue. A synergistic combination of MK-1775 with radiation on OTSCC cell lines with different p53 statuses was assessed by viability assay. The radio-sensitizing effects of MK-1775 on apoptosis, cell cycle, DNA damage, and mitotic entry were also determined. Results: Irradiation enhanced CDK1 expression in all tested cell lines, though the effect was far more pronounced in p53 mutated cell lines. MK-1775 exhibited inhibitory effects against the survival of all cell lines and enhanced their response to the radiation. These effects were strongly elicited by induction of apoptosis and lethal mitosis, but less likely by abrogation of radiation-induced G2 arrest. Conclusion: These results demonstrate the efficacy of MK-1775 in enhancing the radiation effect on OTSCC in vitro associated with a significant apoptotic death rate, identifying WEE1 inhibitor as a potent radiosensitizer in OTSCC irrespective of p53 mutational status.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOral Diseases
Early online date2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022

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