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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Clinical Cancer Research, Volume 24, Issue 6, March 2018, Pages 1402-1414.

The published version is available at Copyright © American Association for Cancer Research


Purpose: The retinoblastoma tumor suppressor (RB), a key regulator of cell-cycle progression and proliferation, is functionally suppressed in up to 50% of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). RB function is exquisitely controlled by a series of proteins, including the CyclinD-CDK4/6 complex. In this study, we interrogated the capacity of a CDK4/6 inhibitor, palbociclib, to activate RB function.

Experimental Design and Results: We employed multiple isogenic RB-proficient and -deficient NSCLC lines to interrogate the cytostatic and cytotoxic capacity of CDK 4/6 inhibition in vitro and in vivo We demonstrate that while short-term exposure to palbociclib induces cellular senescence, prolonged exposure results in inhibition of tumor growth. Mechanistically, CDK 4/6 inhibition induces a proapoptotic transcriptional program through suppression of IAPs FOXM1 and Survivin, while simultaneously augmenting expression of SMAC and caspase-3 in an RB-dependent manner.

Conclusions: This study uncovers a novel function of RB activation to induce cellular apoptosis through therapeutic administration of a palbociclib and provides a rationale for the clinical evaluation of CDK 4/6 inhibitors in the treatment of patients with NSCLC.

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