WEE1 kinase inhibition enhances the radiation response of diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas
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Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is a fatal pediatric disease. Thus far, no therapeutic agent has proven beneficial in the treatment of this malignancy. Therefore, conventional DNA-damaging radiotherapy remains the standard treatment, providing transient neurologic improvement without improving the probability of overall survival. During radiotherapy, WEE1 kinase controls the G(2) cell-cycle checkpoint, allowing for repair of irradiation (IR)-induced DNA damage. Here, we show that WEE1 kinase is one of the highest overexpressed kinases in primary DIPG tissues compared with matching non-neoplastic brain tissues. Inhibition of WEE1 by MK-1775 treatment of DIPG cells inhibited the IR-induced WEE1-mediated phosphorylation of CDC2, resulting in reduced G(2)-M arrest and decreased cell viability. Finally, we show that MK-1775 enhances the radiation response of E98-Fluc-mCherry DIPG mouse xenografts. Altogether, these results show that inhibition of WEE1 kinase in conjunction with radiotherapy holds potential as a therapeutic approach for the treatment of DIPG.