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Purpose: Most patients with ovarian cancer receive paclitaxel chemotherapy, but less than half respond. Pre-treatment microtubule stability correlates with paclitaxel response in ovarian cancer cell lines. Microtubule stability can be increased by depletion of individual kinases. As microtubule stability can be regulated by phosphorylation of microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs), we reasoned that depletion of pairs of kinases that regulate phosphorylation of MAPs could induce microtubule stabilization and paclitaxel sensitization.Experimental Design: Fourteen kinases known to regulate paclitaxel sensitivity were depleted individually in 12 well-characterized ovarian cancer cell lines before measuring proliferation in the presence or absence of paclitaxel. Similar studies were performed by depleting all possible pairs of kinases in six ovarian cancer cell lines. Pairs that enhanced paclitaxel sensitivity across multiple cell lines were studied in depth in cell culture and in two xenograft models.Results: Transfection of siRNA against 10 of the 14 kinases enhanced paclitaxel sensitivity in at least six of 12 cell lines. Dual knockdown of IKBKB/STK39 or EDN2/TBK1 enhanced paclitaxel sensitivity more than silencing single kinases. Sequential knockdown was superior to concurrent knockdown. Dual silencing of IKBKB/STK39 or EDN2/TBK1 stabilized microtubules by inhibiting phosphorylation of p38 and MAP4, inducing apoptosis and blocking cell cycle more effectively than silencing individual kinases. Knockdown of IKBKB/STK39 or EDN2/TBK1 enhanced paclitaxel sensitivity in two ovarian xenograft models.Conclusions: Sequential knockdown of dual kinases increased microtubule stability by decreasing p38-mediated phosphorylation of MAP4 and enhanced response to paclitaxel in ovarian cancer cell lines and xenografts, suggesting a strategy to improve primary therapy. Clin Cancer Res; 24(20); 5072-84. ©2018 AACR.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Cancer Res

Publication Date





5072 - 5084


Animals, Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic, Apoptosis, Biomarkers, Cell Cycle, Cell Line, Tumor, Disease Models, Animal, Drug Resistance, Neoplasm, Female, Gene Knockdown Techniques, Genes, BRCA1, Genes, BRCA2, Genes, p53, Humans, Mice, Microtubule-Associated Proteins, Microtubules, Mutation, Ovarian Neoplasms, Paclitaxel, Phosphorylation, Protein Kinases, RNA, Small Interfering, Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays, p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases