Taselisib (GDC-0032), a potent β-sparing small molecule inhibitor of PI3K, radiosensitizes head and neck squamous carcinomas containing activating PIK3CA alterations

Zachary S. Zumsteg, Natasha Morse, Gabriel Krigsfeld, Gaorav Gupta, Daniel S. Higginson, Nancy Y. Lee, Luc Morris, Ian Ganly, Stephan L. Shiao, Simon N. Powell, Christine H. Chung, Maurizio Scaltriti, José Baselga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Purpose: Activating PIK3CA genomic alterations are frequent in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), and there is an association between phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling and radioresistance. Hence, we investigated the therapeutic efficacy of inhibiting PI3K with GDC-0032, a PI3K inhibitor with potent activity against p110α, in combination with radiation in HNSCC. Experimental Design: The efficacy ofGDC-0032 was assessed in vitro in 26 HNSCC cell lines with crystal violet proliferation assays, and changes in PI3K signaling were measured by Western blot analysis. Cytotoxicity and radiosensitization were assessed with Annexin V staining via flow cytometry and clonogenic survival assays, respectively. DNA damage repair was assessed with immunofluorescence for γH2AX foci, and cell cycle analysis was performed with flow cytometry. In vivo efficacy of GDC-0032 and radiation was assessed in xenografts implanted into nude mice. Results: GDC-0032 inhibited potently PI3K signaling and displayed greater antiproliferative activity in HNSCC cell lines with PIK3CA mutations or amplification, whereas cell lines with PTEN alterations were relatively resistant to its effects. Pretreatment with GDC-0032 radiosensitized PIK3CA-mutant HNSCC cells, enhanced radiation-induced apoptosis, impaired DNA damage repair, and prolonged G2-M arrest following irradiation. Furthermore, combined GDC-0032 and radiation was more effective than either treatment alone in vivo in subcutaneous xenograft models. Conclusions: GDC-0032 has increased potency in HNSCC cell lines harboring PIK3CA-activating aberrations. Further, combined GDC-0032 and radiotherapy was more efficacious than either treatment alone in PIK3CA-altered HNSCC in vitro and in vivo. This strategy warrants further clinical investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2009-2019
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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