Cks overexpression enhances chemotherapeutic efficacy by overriding DNA damage checkpoints

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Cdc kinase subunit (Cks) proteins Cks1 and Cks2 are adaptor-like proteins that bind many cyclin-dependent kinases. A wealth of clinical data has shown that Cks proteins are overexpressed in many types of human cancers and this often correlates with increased tumor aggressiveness. Previously, we showed that Cks overexpression abrogates the intra-S-phase checkpoint, a major barrier to oncogene-mediated transformation. Interestingly, the intra-S-phase checkpoint is crucial for the cellular response to replication stress, a major pathway of apoptosis induction by many chemotherapeutic agents. Here, we demonstrate cancer cells that overexpress Cks1 or Cks2 override the intra-S-phase checkpoint in the presence of replication stress-inducing chemotherapies such as 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) and methotrexate (MTX) leading to enhanced sensitivity in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, enforced expression of Cks1 in an MTX-resistant breast cancer cell line was found to restore drug sensitivity. Our results suggest that Cks proteins are important determinants of apoptosis induction of replication stress-inducing chemotherapies such as 5-FU.

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