RNAi screening of the kinome with cytarabine in leukemias

Raoul Tibes, James M. Bogenberger, Leena Chaudhuri, R. Tanner Hagelstrom, Donald Chow, Megan E. Buechel, Irma M. Gonzales, Tim Demuth, James Slack, Ruben A. Mesa, Esteban Braggio, Hongwei H. Yin, Shilpi Arora, David O. Azorsa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


To identify rational therapeutic combinations with cytarabine (Ara-C), we developed a high-throughput, small-interference RNA (siRNA) platform for myeloid leukemia cells. Of 572 kinases individually silenced in combination with Ara-C, silencing of 10 (1.7%) and 8 (1.4%) kinases strongly increased Ara-C activity in TF-1 and THP-1 cells, respectively. The strongest molecular concepts emerged around kinases involved in cell-cycle checkpoints and DNA-damage repair. In confirmatory siRNA assays, inhibition of WEE1 resulted in more potent and universal sensitization across myeloid cell lines than siRNA inhibition of PKMYT1, CHEK1, or ATR. Treatment of 8 acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) cell lines with commercial and the first-in-class clinical WEE1 kinase inhibitor MK1775 confirmed sensitization to Ara-C up to 97-fold. Ex vivo, adding MK1775 substantially reduced viability in 13 of 14 AML, CML, and myelodysplastic syndrome patient samples compared with Ara-C alone. Maximum sensitization occurred at lower to moderate concentrations of both drugs. Induction of apoptosis was increased using a combination of Ara-C and MK1775 compared with using either drug alone. WEE1 is expressed in primary AML, ALL, and CML specimens. Data from this first siRNA-kinome sensitizer screen suggests that inhibiting WEE1 in combination with Ara-C is a rational combination for the treatment of myeloid and lymphoid leukemias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2863-2872
Number of pages10
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 22 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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