WEE1 kinase targeting combined with DNA-damaging cancer therapy catalyzes mitotic catastrophe

Philip C. de Witt Hamer, Shahryar E. Mir, David Noske, Cornelis J. F. van Noorden, Tom Würdinger

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197 Citations (Scopus)


WEE1 kinase is a key molecule in maintaining G₂-cell-cycle checkpoint arrest for premitotic DNA repair. Whereas normal cells repair damaged DNA during G₁-arrest, cancer cells often have a deficient G₁-arrest and largely depend on G₂-arrest. The molecular switch for the G₂-M transition is held by WEE1 and is pushed forward by CDC25. WEE1 is overexpressed in various cancer types, including glioblastoma and breast cancer. Preclinical studies with cancer cell lines and animal models showed decreased cancer cell viability, reduced tumor burden, and improved survival after WEE1 inhibition by siRNA or small molecule inhibitors, which is enhanced by combination with conventional DNA-damaging therapy, such as radiotherapy and/or cytostatics. Mitotic catastrophe results from premature entry into mitosis with unrepaired lethal DNA damage. As such, cancer cells become sensitized to conventional therapy by WEE1 inhibition, in particular those with insufficient G₁-arrest due to deficient p53 signaling, like glioblastoma cells. One WEE1 inhibitor has now reached clinical phase I studies. Dose-limiting toxicity consisted of hematologic events, nausea and/or vomiting, and fatigue. The combination of DNA-damaging cancer therapy with WEE1 inhibition seems to be a rational approach to push cancer cells in mitotic catastrophe. Its safety and efficacy are being evaluated in clinical studies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4200-4207
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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