Cancer stem cells are presumed to be highly resistant to chemotherapy. Activation of the Hedgehog pathway has been reported as necessary, for the cancer stem cell state. A key gene in the Hedgehog pathway is Gli1. Resistance to platinum compounds is due in part, to up-regulated nucleotide excision repair, NER. ERCC1 is a key marker for NER activity. Transcriptional control of ERCC1 occurs in part, through c-Jun. Upon treatment with cisplatin, cisplatin-resistant A2780-CP70 cells normally up-regulate c-jun and c-fos, which then up-regulate ERCC1 and other NER genes. More specifically, the c-jun Ser63/73 cascade is up-regulated, with up-regulation of activator protein 1 (Reed, JBC 1998). We studied the relationship between Gli1 expression, ERCC1 expression, and cisplatin resistance in the human ovarian cancer cell lines A2780 and A2780-CP70. A2780-CP70 cells are 10-15 fold more resistant to cisplatin than A2780 cells. We used two different probes to modulate the Hedgehog pathway: a) cyclopamine as a pharmacologic inhibitor of the Smoothened; and, b) an anti-Gli1 shRNA to specifically inhibit Gli1. At baseline, cisplatin-resistant cells, expressed > 10-fold more Gli1 protein than cisplatin-sensitive cells. In cisplatin-resistant cells, Gli1 protein was down-regulated in response to cyclopamine, and to anti-Gli1 shRNA. When A2780-CP70 cisplatin-resistant cells are pretreated with cyclopamine, or anti-Gli1 shRNA, the following events occur. The c-jun Thr91/93 cascade is upregulated, which is associated with pro-apoptotic processes. The c-jun Ser63/73 cascade is suppressed. This cascade is associated with pro-growth processes. If cisplatin is given after cyclopamine or anti-Gli1 pretreatment; Gli1 protein is down-regulated; the c-jun Thr91/93 cascade is upregulated; the c-jun Ser63/73 cascade is suppressed; and cells do not up-regulate ERCC1, XPD, or XRCC1. Thus, the normal cisplatin-induced up-regulation of these three genes involved in NER (ERCC1, XPD) and in base excision repair (XRCC1), is suppressed by suppression of the Hedgehog pathway. We conclude that Gli1 and/or other genes involved in the Hedgehog pathway (which is critical for cancer stem cells), may play key roles in the up-regulation of DNA repair genes, specifically in response to DNA damaging agents such as cisplatin.

Citation Format: {Authors}. {Abstract title} [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 101st Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2010 Apr 17-21; Washington, DC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2010;70(8 Suppl):Abstract nr LB-281.