In an effort to develop strategies that improve the efficacy of existing anticancer agents, we have conducted a siRNA-based RNAi screen to identify genes that, when targeted by siRNA, improve the activity of the topoisomerase I (Top1) poison camptothecin (CPT). Screening was conducted using a set of siRNAs corresponding to over 400 apoptosisrelated genes in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. During the course of these studies, we identified the silencing of MAP3K7 as a significant enhancer of CPT activity. Follow-up analysis of caspase activity and caspase-dependent phosphorylation of histone H2AX demonstrated that the silencing of MAP3K7 enhanced CPT-associated apoptosis. Silencing MAP3K7 also sensitized cells to additional compounds, including CPT clinical analogs. This activity was not restricted to MDA-MB-231 cells, as the silencing of MAP3K7 also sensitized the breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-468 and HCT-116 colon cancer cells. However, MAP3K7 silencing did not affect compound activity in the comparatively normal mammary epithelial cell line MCF10A, as well as some additional tumorigenic lines. MAP3K7 encodes the TAK1 kinase, an enzyme that is central to the regulation of many processes associated with the growth of cancer cells (e.g. NF- κB, JNK, and p38 signaling). An analysis of TAK1 signaling pathway members revealed that the silencing of TAB2 also sensitizes MDA-MB-231 and HCT-116 cells towards CPT. These findings may offer avenues towards lowering the effective doses of Top1 inhibitors in cancer cells and, in doing so, broaden their application.
Keywords: RNAi, siRNA, Screen, Camptothecin, TAK1, MAP3K7, TAB2, TRAF6., ataxia telangiectasia mutated, H2AX, NF-κB essential modulator
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