PloS one

The small-molecule kinase inhibitor D11 counteracts 17-AAG-mediated up-regulation of HSP70 in brain cancer cells.

PMID 28542269


Many types of cancer express high levels of heat shock proteins (HSPs) that are molecular chaperones regulating protein folding and stability ensuring protection of cells from potentially lethal stress. HSPs in cancer cells promote survival, growth and spreading even in situations of growth factors deprivation by associating with oncogenic proteins responsible for cell transformation. Hence, it is not surprising that the identification of potent inhibitors of HSPs, notably HSP90, has been the primary research focus, in recent years. Exposure of cancer cells to HSP90 inhibitors, including 17-AAG, has been shown to cause resistance to chemotherapeutic treatment mostly attributable to induction of the heat shock response and increased cellular levels of pro-survival chaperones. In this study, we show that treatment of glioblastoma cells with 17-AAG leads to HSP90 inhibition indicated by loss of stability of the EGFR client protein, and significant increase in HSP70 expression. Conversely, co-treatment with the small-molecule kinase inhibitor D11 leads to suppression of the heat shock response and inhibition of HSF1 transcriptional activity. Beside HSP70, Western blot and differential mRNA expression analysis reveal that combination treatment causes strong down-regulation of the small chaperone protein HSP27. Finally, we demonstrate that incubation of cells with both agents leads to enhanced cytotoxicity and significantly high levels of LC3-II suggesting autophagy induction. Taken together, results reported here support the notion that including D11 in future treatment regimens based on HSP90 inhibition can potentially overcome acquired resistance induced by the heat shock response in brain cancer cells.