Inhibition of type 1 IGF receptor (IGF-1R) sensitizes to DNA-damaging cancer treatments, and delays repair of DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) by non-homologous end-joining and homologous recombination (HR). In a recent screen for mediators of resistance to IGF-1R inhibitor AZ12253801, we identified RAD51, required for the strand invasion step of HR. These findings prompted us to test the hypothesis that IGF-1R-inhibited cells accumulate DSBs formed at endogenous DNA lesions, and depend on residual HR for their repair. Indeed, initial experiments showed time-dependent accumulation of γH2AX foci in IGF-1R -inhibited or -depleted prostate cancer cells. We then tested effects of suppressing HR, and found that RAD51 depletion enhanced AZ12253801 sensitivity in PTEN wild-type prostate cancer cells but not in cells lacking functional PTEN. Similar sensitization was induced in prostate cancer cells by depletion of BRCA2, required for RAD51 loading onto DNA, and in BRCA2−/− colorectal cancer cells, compared with isogenic BRCA2+/− cells. We also assessed chemical HR inhibitors, finding that RAD51 inhibitor BO2 blocked RAD51 focus formation and sensitized to AZ12253801. Finally, we tested CDK1 inhibitor RO-3306, which impairs HR by inhibiting CDK1-mediated BRCA1 phosphorylation. R0–3306 suppressed RAD51 focus formation consistent with HR attenuation, and sensitized prostate cancer cells to IGF-1R inhibition, with 2.4-fold reduction in AZ12253801 GI50 and 13-fold reduction in GI80. These data suggest that responses to IGF-1R inhibition are enhanced by genetic and chemical approaches to suppress HR, defining a population of cancers (PTEN wild-type, BRCA mutant) that may be intrinsically sensitive to IGF-1R inhibitory drugs.
Some patients have benefitted from drugs that inhibit IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R), but there was no way to predict in advance which patients will respond. This study shows that if molecules involved in homologous recombination (HR)–such as RAD51, BRCA2, or CDK1–are blocked, cells become more sensitive to IGF-1R inhibition. Given previous work showing that IGF-1R inhibition partially suppresses HR, these data suggest that IGF-1R-inhibited cells are more dependent on residual HR to repair endogenous DNA damage, and HR-deficient tumors may be sensitive to IGF-1R inhibitory drugs.