Cdk9 and Cdk7 are cdc2-like serine/threonine kinases that stabilize RNA transcript elongation through RNA polII carboxyl terminal domain (CTD) phosphorylation and are considered suitable targets for cancer therapy. The effects of flavopiridol and of siRNA-mediated inhibition of Cdk9 and/or Cdk7 were analyzed in human glioblastoma and human prostate cancer cell lines. One finding revealed that Cdk9 and Cdk7 could substitute each other in RNA polII CTD phosphorylation in contrast to the in vitro system. Thus, a simultaneous inhibition of Cdk9 and Cdk7 might be required both for targeting malignant cells and developing a platform for microarray analysis. However, these two pathways are not redundant, as indicated by differential effects observed in cell cycle regulation following siRNA-mediated inhibition of Cdk9 and/or Cdk7 in human PC3 prostate cancer cell line. Specifically, siRNA-mediated inhibition of Cdk9 caused a shift from G 0/G 1 to G 2/M phase in human PC3 prostate cancer cell line. Another finding showed that flavopiridol treatment induced a substantial AKT-Ser473 phosphorylation in human glioblastoma T98G cell line in contrast to siRNA-mediated inhibition of Cdk9 and Cdk9 combined with Cdk7, whereas siRNA-mediated silencing of Cdk7 caused a minor increase in AKT-Ser473 phosphorylation. AKT-Ser473 is a hallmark of AKT pathway activation and may protect cells from apoptosis. This finding also shows that Cdk9 and Cdk7 pathways are not redundant and may have important implications in drug development and for studying the mechanism of chemoresistance in malignant cells.
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