Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the United States. Aggressive treatment regimens have not changed the disease course, and the median survival has just recently reached a year. Several mechanisms are proposed to play a role in PDAC therapeutic resistance, including hypoxia, which creates a more aggressive phenotype with increased metastatic potential and impaired therapeutic efficacy. AP Endonuclease-1/Redox Effector Factor 1 (APE1/Ref-1) is a multifunctional protein possessing a DNA repair function in base excision repair and the ability to reduce oxidized transcription factors, enabling them to bind to their DNA target sequences. APE1/Ref-1 regulates several transcription factors involved in survival mechanisms, tumor growth, and hypoxia signaling. Here, we explore the mechanisms underlying PDAC cell responses to hypoxia and modulation of APE1/Ref-1 redox signaling activity, which regulates the transcriptional activation of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF1α). Carbonic anhydrase IX (CA9) is regulated by HIF1α and functions as a part of the cellular response to hypoxia to regulate intracellular pH, thereby promoting cell survival. We hypothesized that modulating APE1/Ref-1 function will block activation of downstream transcription factors, STAT3 and HIF1α, interfering with the hypoxia-induced gene expression. We demonstrate APE1/Ref-1 inhibition in patient-derived and established PDAC cells results in decreased HIF1α–mediated induction of CA9. Furthermore, an ex vivo three-dimensional tumor coculture model demonstrates dramatic enhancement of APE1/Ref-1–induced cell killing upon dual targeting of APE1/Ref-1 and CA9. Both APE1/Ref-1 and CA9 are under clinical development; therefore, these studies have the potential to direct novel PDAC therapeutic treatment. Mol Cancer Ther; 15(11); 1–11. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Online (http://mct.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received April 26, 2016.
- Revision received August 2, 2016.
- Accepted August 3, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.