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Protein kinases and renal carcinoma: Discovery and validation of a novel combinational target therapy through co-inhibition of CK2 and ATM kinases

Published on 14 October 2016

Thesis presented October 14, 2016

Renal cell carcinoma accounts for 3% of all malignant diseases in adults making it the 10th most common cancer in France. The most frequent type of Kidney cancer is Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma (CCRCC). Almost all CCRCC show an inactivation of the Von Hippel Lindau tumour suppressor gene (VHL). Between 25-30% of the patients will develop metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) by the time they are diagnose or become unresponsive to all treatments and in these cases, the disease has a rapid progression. Over the past years, kinase-targeted therapies (Sunitinib, Sorafenib, Temsirolimus) have become the mainstay of treatment for mRCC, however, most, if not all, patients acquire resistance to these approaches over time. In this context my PhD had 3 goals: a) to find a new combinatory targeted therapy through a High Throughput Screening; b) to establish 3D models mimicking the real environment of the tumours (spheroids, Tissue Slice Culture); c) to validate the Hits through different molecular and cellular biology studies.
We conducted a synthetic lethal screen on the CMBA platform (CEA-Grenoble), choosing 36 potential genes targets and 80 kinases inhibitors drugs. Each of the target gene was silenced by a transduction with shRNA Lentivirus into the 786-O cell line derived from ccRCC that lacks the tumour suppressor VHL, is radio- and chemo-therapy resistant, has increased mobility and is highly metastatic. Among the hit combinations that affect cell viability, one of them was chosen because it targets two important kinases involved in cell survival and DNA repair: CK2 and ATM. Moreover, this combination is specifically more active in the 786-O VHL- cells than in 786-O VHL+ cell line. We evaluated the effect of our drugs on the viability of our 786-O VHL+ and VHL- cells in normoxic (21% O2) or hypoxic (1.5% O2) conditions that reflect different environments that are present in a tumour. Surprisingly, in normoxia, we found a synergetic effect of the drug mix only on the 786-O VHL- cells but not on 786-O VHL+ cells. Furthermore, this effect was even stronger in conditions of Hypoxia (up to 20% of synergism). Mechanistically, an up-regulation of the stress pathways was much stronger in the VHL- cells in the presence of the combination than with the drugs alone. No apoptosis was detected in this 2D models. In Multi-Cellular Tumour Spheroid (MCTS) where the organization of a micro-tumour is reproduced, our drugs are even more effective in inducing cell apoptosis than in 2D monolayers of 786-O VHL- cells. These results also demonstrate that pharmaco-modulation of viability of renal tumour organotypic culture by chemical combination targeting protein kinases can be studied. Perspectives of this work are the validation of this drug combination on human renal tumours and the use of organotypic culture as a test for personalized treatment response.

CK2, Spheroids, 3D culture, screening