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Title: Targeting PFKFB4 in mitotically vulnerable ovarian cancer cells
Author: Taylor, Charlotte
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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Taxanes represent some of the most common chemotherapeutic agents for ovarian cancer treatment. However, they are only effective in approximately 40% of patients. As such, novel therapeutic strategies are required to potentiate their effect in ovarian cancer to improve patient outcome and prevent chemotherapy resistance. A hallmark of many cancers is the constitutive activation of the PI3K/AKT pathway, which drives cell survival and metabolism. In this thesis, I identified a potential vulnerability in ovarian cancer cell lines during paclitaxel-induced mitotic arrest, comprising of a striking decrease in AKT activity coupled with a significant reduction in glucose 6-phosphate and ATP levels. The reanalysis of a high content siRNA screen to discover metabolic enzymes important for ovarian cancer cell survival during paclitaxel-induced mitotic arrest, identified the metabolic enzyme PFKFB4. PFKFB4 depletion followed by paclitaxel treatment resulted in a significant decrease in mitotically arrested cells. This was accompanied by a significant increase in caspase-3/7 activity and the levels of reactive oxygen species only in mitotically arrested cells, and a significant enhancement in mitotic cell death and mitotic slippage. Depletion of the related family member, PFKFB3, demonstrated a similar phenotype. The exogenous expression of constitutively active AKT or siRNA-resistant PFKFB4 did not confer resistance to PFKFB4 depletion and paclitaxel treatment, indicating that the mechanism of mitotic cell reduction is complex. Nonetheless, the observation that some ovarian cancer cells lose AKT activity during mitotic arrest and could become vulnerable to metabolic targeting is a new concept in cancer therapy. In addition, I have identified previously unrecognised roles of PFKFB3 and PFKFB4 in mitotically arrested ovarian cancer cells. This work supports the notion that combining mitotic-targeted therapies with metabolic inhibitors may act to potentiate the effects of antimitotics in ovarian cancer cells.
Supervisor: Ahmed, Ahmed Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PFKFB4 ; PFKFB3 ; paclitaxel ; ovarian cancer ; AKT