AZD1775 sensitizes T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells to cytarabine by promoting apoptosis over DNA repair

James B. Ford, Dmitry Baturin, Tamara M. Burleson, A. Van Linden Annemie, Yong Mi Kim, Christopher C. Porter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


While some children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) have excellent prognoses, the prognosis for adults and children with T cell ALL is more guarded. Treatment for T-ALL is heavily dependent upon antimetabolite chemotherapeutics, including cytarabine. Targeted inhibition of WEE1 with AZD1775 has emerged as a strategy to sensitize cancer cells to cytarabine and other chemotherapeutics. We sought to determine if this strategy would be effective for T-ALL with clinically relevant anti-leukemia agents. We found that AZD1775 sensitizes T-ALL cells to several traditional anti-leukemia agents, acting synergistically with cytarabine by enhancing DNA damage and apoptosis. In addition to increased phosphorylation of H2AX at serine 139 (?H2AX), AZD1775 led to increased phosphorylation of H2AX at tyrosine 142, a signaling event associated with promotion of apoptosis over DNA repair. In a xenograft model of T-ALL, the addition of AZD1775 to cytarabine slowed leukemia progression and prolonged survival. Inhibition of WEE1 with AZD1775 sensitizes T-ALL to several anti-leukemia agents, particularly cytarabine. Mechanistically, AZD1775 promotes apoptosis over DNA repair in cells treated with cytarabine. These data support the development of clinical trials including AZD1775 in combination with conventional chemotherapy for acute leukemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28001-28010
Number of pages10
Issue number29
StatePublished - 2015


  • DNA damage
  • Experimental therapeutics
  • Kinase
  • Leukemia
  • Wee1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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