The DNA damage response (DDR) gene cell cycle checkpoint kinase 2 (Chk2) triggers programmed cell death and lethal radiation-induced toxicity in mice in vivo. However, it is not well established to what extent targeting of Chk2 may protect from dose-limiting toxicities (DLT) inflicted by mainstay cancer chemotherapy. We screened different classes of chemotherapy in wild type and Chk2-deficient cells. Here we show that loss of Chk2 protect from cell death in vitro and lethal toxicity in vivo following treatment with topoisomerase II (TOP2)-inhibitors whereas no such protection was observed following treatment with topoisomerase I (TOP1) inhibitors. Furthermore, through combined in silico and functional screens of the Diversity Set II (NCI/NTP) chemical library we identified the carbanilide-derivative NSC105171, also known as ptu-23, as a novel Chk2 inhibitor (Chk2i). Indeed, NSC105171 can be administered safely to mice to countermeasure etoposide-induced toxicity. Incorporation of Chk2i into chemotherapy protocols employing TOP2-inhibitors may be an effective strategy to prevent DLT's without interfering with treatment.
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