Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)

Pharmacological inhibition of Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) by BI-2536 decreases the viability and survival of hamartin and tuberin deficient cells via induction of apoptosis and attenuation of autophagy.

PMID 25565629


The mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) increases translation, cell size and angiogenesis, and inhibits autophagy. mTORC1 is negatively regulated by hamartin and tuberin, the protein products of the tumor suppressors TSC1 and TSC2 that are mutated in Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) and sporadic Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM). Hamartin interacts with the centrosomal and mitotic kinase polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1). Hamartin and tuberin deficient cells have abnormalities in centrosome duplication, mitotic progression, and cytokinesis, suggesting that the hamartin/tuberin heterodimer and mTORC1 signaling are involved in centrosome biology and mitosis. Here we report that PLK1 protein levels are increased in hamartin and tuberin deficient cells and LAM patient-derived specimens, and that this increase is rapamycin-sensitive. Pharmacological inhibition of PLK1 by the small-molecule inhibitor BI-2536 significantly decreased the viability and clonogenic survival of hamartin and tuberin deficient cells, which was associated with increased apoptosis. BI-2536 increased p62, LC3B-I and GFP-LC3 punctae, and inhibited HBSS-induced degradation of p62, suggesting that PLK1 inhibition attenuates autophagy. Finally, PLK1 inhibition repressed the expression and protein levels of key autophagy genes and proteins and the protein levels of Bcl(-)2 family members, suggesting that PLK1 regulates both autophagic and apoptotic responses. Taken together, our data point toward a previously unrecognized role of PLK1 on the survival of cells with mTORC1 hyperactivation, and the potential use of PLK1 inhibitors as novel therapeutics for tumors with dysregulated mTORC1 signaling, including TSC and LAM.