Poster Presentation 25th Lorne Cancer Conference 2013

E2F7 regulates sensitivity to the cytotoxic actions of anthracyclines in squamous cell carcinoma (#203)

Mehlika Hazar Rethinam 1 , Fiona Simpson 1 , Nicholas Saunders 1
  1. University Of Queensland Diamantina Institute, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck region is a common and potentially fatal malignancy. Current chemotherapies are generally not curative. Therefore, there is considerable need to develop new and targeted therapies to treat SCC. There is evidence that suggests E2F transcription factors play an important role in  keratinocyte (KC) differentiation, growth and apoptosis. There are recently identified inhibitory forms of E2F; E2F7 and E2F8, which have caused a rethink of previous models. In this study, we examined the effects of E2F1, E2F7 and E2F8 on cytotoxic responses to chemotherapeutic agents. Our results showed that E2F8 deficient KCs displayed unaltered responses to 3 structurally different classes of chemotherapeutics, being doxorubicin (anthracycline), cisplatin (platinum) or etoposide (topoisomerase II inhibitor). Similarly, E2F1 and E2F7-deficient KCs retained apoptotic responses to etoposide and cisplatin. In contrast, E2F7-deficient murine KCs were selectively sensitised to the cytotoxic actions of doxorubicin whilst E2F1-deficiency protected against doxorubicin. Sensitivity to doxorubicin was E2F7-dependent, as reintroduction of E2F7 in E2F7-deficient KCs protected against doxorubicin-induced cell death. These results indicate that E2F7 regulates cytotoxic responses of SCC to doxorubicin. Since E2F7 modulates sensitivity to doxorubicin, we examined the cytotoxicity of doxorubicin in SCC cell lines. The results suggested that SCC cells vary in their sensitivity to doxorubicin in accordance with the ratio of E2F7/E2F1 protein expression. These data showed that E2F7/E2F1 ratio is disrupted in SCC and this contributes to the insensitivity to doxorubicin. Combined, these data indicate the existence of a novel, non-redundant and isoform-specific activity of E2F7 in keratinocytes that has implications for our understanding of chemotherapeutic sensitivity in SCC.