Currently, there is a serious absence of pharmaceutically attractive small molecules that mitigate the lethal effects of an accidental or intentional public exposure to toxic doses of ionizing radiation. Moreover, cellular systems that emulate the radiobiologically relevant cell populations and that are suitable for high-throughput screening have not been established. Therefore, we examined two human pluripotent embryonal carcinoma cell lines for use in an unbiased phenotypic small interfering RNA (siRNA) assay to identify proteins with the potential of being drug targets for the protection of human cell populations against clinically relevant ionizing radiation doses that cause acute radiation syndrome. Of the two human cell lines tested, NCCIT cells had optimal growth characteristics in a 384 well format, exhibited radiation sensitivity (D0 = 1.3 ± 0.1 Gy and ñ = 2.0 ± 0.6) comparable to the radiosensitivity of stem cell populations associated with human death within 30 days after total-body irradiation. Moreover, they internalized siRNA after 4 Gy irradiation enabling siRNA library screening. Therefore, we used the human NCCIT cell line for the radiation mitigation study with a siRNA library that silenced 5,520 genes known or hypothesized to be potential therapeutic targets. Exploiting computational methodologies, we identified 113 siRNAs with potential radiomitigative properties, which were further refined to 29 siRNAs with phosphoinositide-3-kinase regulatory subunit 1 (p85α) being among the highest confidence candidate gene products. Colony formation assays revealed radiation mitigation when the phosphoinositide-3-kinase inhibitor LY294002 was given after irradiation of 32D cl 3 cells (D0 = 1.3 ± 0.1 Gy and ñ = 2.3 ± 0.3 for the vehicle control treated cells compared to D0 = 1.2 ± 0.1 Gy and ñ = 6.0 ± 0.8 for the LY294002 treated cells, P = 0.0004). LY294002 and two other PI3K inhibitors, PI 828 and GSK 1059615, also mitigated radiation-induced apoptosis in NCCIT cells. Treatment of mice with a single intraperitoneal LY294002 dose of 30 mg/kg at 10 min, 4, or 24 h after LD50/30 whole-body dose of irradiation (9.25 Gy) enhanced survival. This study documents that an unbiased siRNA assay can identify new genes, signaling pathways, and chemotypes as radiation mitigators and implicate the PI3K pathway in the human radiation response.
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Vol. 178 • No. 3