Rapamycin-mediated mTOR inhibition attenuates survivin and sensitizes glioblastoma cells to radiation therapy

Arunkumar Anandharaj, Senthilkumar Cinghu, Woo Yoon Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Survivin, an antiapoptotic protein, is elevated in most malignancies and attributes to radiation resistance in tumors including glioblastoma multiforme. The downregulation of survivin could sensitize glioblastoma cells to radiation therapy. In this study, we investigated the effect of rapamycin, an inhibitor of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), in attenuating survivin and enhancing the therapeutic efficacy for glioblastoma cells, and elucidated the underlying mechanisms. Here we tested various concentrations of rapamycin (18 nM) in combination with radiation dose 4 Gy. Rapamycin effectively modulated the protein kinase B (Akt)/mTOR pathway by inhibiting the phosphorylation of Akt and mTOR proteins, and this inhibition was further enhanced by radiation. The expression level of survivin was decreased in rapamycin pre-treatment glioblastoma cells followed by radiation; meanwhile, the phosphorylation of H2A histone family member X (H2AX) at serine-139 (γ-H2AX) was increased. p21 protein was also induced on radiation with rapamycin pre-treatment, which enhanced G1 arrest and the accumulation of cells at G0/subG1 phase. Furthermore, the clonogenic cell survival assay revealed a significant dose-dependent decrease in the surviving fraction for all three cell lines pre-treated with rapamycin. Our studies demonstrated that targeting survivin may be an effective approach for radiosensitization of malignant glioblastoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-300
Number of pages9
JournalActa Biochimica et Biophysica Sinica
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • glioblastoma
  • mTOR
  • radiation
  • rapamycin
  • survivin


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