★ HSP90 inhibition by 17-AAG decreases cellular Rad51 expression. ★ 17-AAG downregulates the DNA repair capacity of human lung cancer cells. ★ Rad51 plays a protective role in 17-AAG-induced cytotoxicity.
Heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) is an exciting new target in cancer therapy. Repair protein Rad51 is involved in protecting non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines against chemotherapeutic agent-induced cytotoxicity. This study investigated the role of Rad51 expression in HSP90 inhibitor 17-allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG)-induced cytotoxicity in two NSCLC cell lines, A549 and H1975. The 17-AAG treatment decreased cellular Rad51 protein and mRNA levels and phosphorylated MKK1/2-ERK1/2 protein levels, and disrupted the HSP90 and Rad51 interaction. This triggered Rad51 protein degradation through the 26S proteasome pathway. The 17-AAG treatment also decreased the NSCLC cells’ DNA repair capacity, which was restored by the forced expression of the Flag-Rad51 vector. Specific inhibition of Rad51 expression by siRNA further enhanced 17-AAG-induced cytotoxicity. In contrast, enhanced ERK1/2 activation by the constitutively active MKK1/2 (MKK1/2-CA) vector significantly restored the 17-AAG-reduced Rad51 protein levels and cell viability. Arachidin-1, an antioxidant stilbenoid, further decreased Rad51 expression and augmented the cytotoxic effect and growth inhibition of 17-AAG. The 17-AAG and arachidin-1-induced synergistic cytotoxic effects and decreased DNA repair capacity were abrogated in lung cancer cells with MKK1/2-CA or Flag-Rad51 expression vector transfection. In conclusion, HSP90 inhibition induces cytotoxicity by down-regulating Rad51 expression and DNA repair capacity in NSCLC cells.