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Cancer therapies using defects in homologous recombination (HR) DNA repair pathway of tumor cells are not yet approved to be applicable in patients with malignancies other than BRCA1/2-mutated tumors. This study was designed to determine the efficacy of combination therapy of a histone deacetylase inhibitor, valproic acid (VPA) and a novel PARP inhibitor AZD2461 in both PC-3 (PTEN-mutated) and DU145 (PTEN-unmutated) prostate cancer cell lines. The Trypan blue dye exclusion assay and the tetrazolium-based colorimetric (MTT) assay were performed to measure the cytotoxicity while combination effects were assessed based on Chou-Talalay's principles. Flow-cytometric assay determined the type of cell death. The real-time PCR analysis was used to evaluate the alterations in mRNA levels of HR-related genes while their protein levels were measured using the ELISA method. γ-H2AX levels were determined as a marker of DNA damage. We observed a synergistic relationship between VPA and AZD2461 in all affected fractions of PC-3 cells (CI<0.9), but not in DU145 cells (CI>1.1). Annexin-V staining analysis revealed a significant induction of apoptosis when PC-3 cells were treated with VPA+AZD2461 (p<0.05). Both mRNA and protein levels of Rad51 and Mre11 were significantly decreased in PC-3 cells co-treated with VPA+AZD2461 while enhanced H2AX phosphorylation was found in PC-3 cells after 12 and 24 hours of co-treatment (p<0.05). Our findings established a preclinical rationale for selective targeting of HR repair pathways by a combination of VPA and AZD2461 as a mechanism for reducing the HR pathway sufficiency in PTEN-mutated prostate cancer cells.
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