Cervical cancer continues to be a significant cause of cancer-related deaths in women. The most common treatment for cervical cancer involves the use of the drug cisplatin in conjunction with other therapeutics. However, the development of cisplatin resistance in patients can hinder the efficacy of these treatments, so alternatives are needed. In this study, we found that PARP inhibitors (PARPi) could attenuate the growth of cells representing cervical adenocarcinoma and cervical squamous cell carcinoma. Moreover, a combination of PARPi with cisplatin increased cisplatin-mediated cytotoxicity in cervical cancer cells. This was accompanied by a dramatic alteration of the transcriptome. The FOS gene, which encodes the transcription factor Fos, was one of the most highly upregulated genes in the dual treatment condition, leading to increased Fos protein levels, greater Fos binding to chromatin, and the subsequent induction of Fos target genes. Increased expression of Fos was sufficient to hinder cervical cancer growth, as shown by ectopic expression of Fos in cervical cancer cells. Conversely, Fos knockdown enhanced cell growth. Collectively, these results indicate that by inducing FOS expression, PARPi treatment in combination with cisplatin leads to inhibition of cervical cancer proliferation, likely through a Fos-specific gene expression program.
Our observations, which link the gene regulatory effects of PARPi + cisplatin to the growth inhibitory effects of FOS expression in cervical cancer cells, strengthen the rationale for using PARPi with cisplatin as a therapy for cervical cancer.