Members of the phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase related kinase (PIKK) family function in both cell cycle progression and DNA damage-induced cell cycle checkpoints. The fungal metabolite, wortmannin, is an effective radiosensitizer that irreversibly inhibits certain members of the PIKK family. Based on their roles in DNA damage responses, several PIKKs, DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK), ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) and the ataxia- and Rad3-related protein (ATR), are potential targets for the radiosensitizing effect of wortmannin. In this report, we demonstrate that wortmannin is a relatively potent inhibitor of DNA-PK (IC50, 16 nm) and ATM (IC50, 150 nm) activities, whereas ATR activity is significantly less sensitive to this drug (IC50, 1.8 µm). In intact A549 lung adenocarcinoma cells, wortmannin inhibited both DNA-PK and ATM at concentrations that correlated closely with those required for radiosensitization. Furthermore, pretreatment of A549 cells with wortmannin resulted in radioresistant DNA synthesis, a characteristic abnormality of ATM-deficient cells. These results identify wortmannin as an inhibitor of ATM activity and suggest that ATM and DNA-PK are relevant targets for the radiosensitizing effect of this drug in cancer cells.

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This work was supported by the Mayo Foundation, by Grant CA52995 (to R. T. A.) and Grant CA69709 (to J. N. S.) from the NIH, and the Admadjaja Thymoma Research Fund (to R. T. A.). R. S. T. is a recipient of a Special Fellow Award from the Leukemia Society of America.

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