Identification and Validation of ERK5 as a DNA Damage Modulating Drug Target in Glioblastoma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Natasha Carmell
  • Ola Rominiyi
  • Katie N. Myers
  • Connor McGarrity-Cottrell
  • Aurelie Vanderlinden
  • Nikita Lad
  • Eva Perroux-David
  • Amira Sherif
  • Malee Fernando
  • Stephen Brown
  • Spencer Collis


Brain tumours kill more children and adults under 40 than any other cancer, with approximately half of primary brain tumours being diagnosed as high‐grade malignancies known as glioblastomas. Despite de‐bulking surgery combined with chemo‐/radiotherapy regimens, the mean survival for these patients is only around 15 months, with less than 10% surviving over 5 years. This dismal prognosis highlights the urgent need to develop novel agents to improve the treatment of these tumours. To address this need, we carried out a human kinome siRNA screen to identify potential drug targets that augment the effectiveness of temozolomide (TMZ)—the standard‐of‐care chemotherapeutic agent used to treat glioblastoma. From this we identified ERK5/MAPK7, which we subsequently validated using a range of siRNA and small molecule inhibitors within a panel of glioma cells. Mechanistically, we find that ERK5 promotes efficient repair of TMZ‐induced DNA lesions to confer cell survival and clonogenic capacity. Finally, using several glioblastoma patient cohorts we provide target validation data for ERK5 as a novel drug target, revealing that heightened ERK5 expression at both the mRNA and protein level is associated with increased tumour grade and poorer patient survival. Collectively, these findings provide a foundation to develop clinically effective ERK5 targeting strategies in glioblastomas and establish much‐needed enhancement of the therapeutic repertoire used to treat this currently incurable disease.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article number944
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number5
Early online date24 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021