Digoxin enhances radiation response in radioresistant A549 cells by reducing protein phosphatase 2A

Ji Young Lee, Mi Sook Kim, Mi So Lee, Jae Eun Ju, Namhyun Chung, Youn Kyoung Jeong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) is a ubiquitous multifunctional enzyme usually known as a tumor suppressor. Recent studies have reported that although inhibition of PP2A leads to acceleration of cell growth, it also induces damaged cells to pass through the cell cycle and renders them sensitive to radiotherapy. Here, we investigated the radiosensitizing effects of digoxin as a PP2A inhibitor in two non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell types (H460 and A549) with differential sensitivity to radiation. Digoxin inhibited the proliferation of H460 and A549 cells in a dose-dependent fashion and was especially effective on radioresistant A549 cells. Interestingly, the radiosensitizing effect of digoxin was only present in the radioresistant A549 cells and xenografts. The combination of digoxin and ionizing radiation (IR) significantly reduced clonogenic survival and xenograft tumor growth (P<0.001), compared with IR alone. Digoxin suppressed PP2A protein expression and prevented IR-induced PP2A expression in A549 cells. Digoxin treatment combined with IR allowed the damaged cell to progress through the cell cycle via suppression of cell cycle-related proteins (p53, cyclin D1, cyclin B1, CDK4, and p-cdc2). Moreover, digoxin enhanced IR-induced DNA damage through reduction in levels of repair proteins and elevation of p-ATM foci formation up to 24 h (P<0.001). In conclusion, digoxin has a novel function as a PP2A inhibitor, and combined with IR produces a synergistic effect on radiosensitizing cells, thereby indicating a potentially promising therapeutic approach to radioresistant lung cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberBSR20171257
JournalBioscience Reports
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 22

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Korea Institute of Radiological and Medical Sciences (KIRAMS), funded by Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, Republic of Korea [grant number 1711031807/50541-2016].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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