Obatoclax overcomes resistance to cell death in aggressive thyroid carcinomas by countering Bcl2a1 and Mcl1 overexpression

Devora Champa, Marika A. Russo, Xiao Hui Liao, Samuel Refetoff, Ronald A. Ghossein, Antonio Di Cristofano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Poorly differentiated tumors of the thyroid gland (PDTC) are generally characterized by a poor prognosis due to their resistance to available therapeutic approaches. The relative rarity of these tumors is a major obstacle to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms leading to tumor aggressiveness and drug resistance, and consequently to the development of novel therapies. By simultaneously activating Kras and deleting p53 (Trp53) in thyroid follicular cells, we have generated a novel mouse model that develops papillary thyroid cancer invariably progressing to PDTC. In several cases, tumors further progress to anaplastic carcinomas. The poorly differentiated tumors are morphologically and functionally similar to their human counterparts and depend on MEK/ERK signaling for proliferation. Using primary carcinomas as well as carcinoma-derived cell lines, we also demonstrate that these tumors are intrinsically resistant to apoptosis due to high levels of expression of the Bcl2 family members, Bcl2a1 (Bcl2a1a) and Mcl1, and can be effectively targeted by Obatoclax, a small-molecule pan-inhibitor of the Bcl2 family. Furthermore, we show that Bcl2 family inhibition synergizes with MEK inhibition as well as with doxorubicin in inducing cell death. Thus, our studies in a novel, relevant mouse model have uncovered a promising druggable feature of aggressive thyroid cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)755-767
Number of pages13
JournalEndocrine-Related Cancer
Volume21
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

Keywords

  • Cell death
  • Mouse model
  • Thyroid cancer
  • University of Chicago

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Oncology
  • Endocrinology
  • Cancer Research

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