Enhancing the cytotoxicity of chemoradiation with radiation-guided delivery of anti-MGMT morpholino oligonucleotides in non-methylated solid tumors

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Abstract

The DNA repair enzyme O6-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) is epigenetically silenced in some tumors by MGMT gene promoter methylation. MGMT-hypermethylated solid tumors have enhanced susceptibility to the cytotoxic effects of alkylating chemotherapy such as temozolomide, compared with non-methylated tumors. In glioblastoma, subjects with MGMT hypermethylation have significantly longer survival rates after chemoradiotherapy. We report the first successful use of a non-ablative dose of ionizing radiation to prime human cancer cells to enhance the uptake of unmodified anti-MGMT morpholino oligonucleotide (AMON) sequences. We demonstrate >40% reduction in the in vitro proliferation index and cell viability in radiation-primed MGMT-expressing human solid tumor cells treated with a single dose of AMONs and temozolomide. We further demonstrate the feasibility of using a non-ablative dose of radiation in vivo to guide and enhance the delivery of intravenously administered AMONs to achieve 50% MGMT knockdown only at radiation-primed tumor sites in a subcutaneous tumor model. Local upregulation of physiological endocytosis after radiation may have a role in radiation-guided uptake of AMONs. This approach holds direct translational significance in glioblastoma and brain metastases where radiation is part of the standard of care; our approach to silence MGMT could overcome the significant problem of MGMT-mediated chemoresistance.

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