Syk is a non-receptor tyrosine kinase involved in the signalling of immunoreceptors and growth factor receptors. Previously, we reported that Syk mediates epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signalling and plays a negative role in the terminal differentiation of keratinocytes. To understand whether Syk is a potential therapeutic target of cancer cells, we further elucidated the role of Syk in disease progression of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which is highly associated with EGFR overactivation, and determined the combined effects of Syk and PARP1 inhibitors on SCC viability. We found that pharmacological inhibition of Syk could attenuate the EGF-induced phosphorylation of EGFR, JNK, p38 MAPK, STAT1, and STAT3 in A431, CAL27 and SAS cells. In addition, EGF could induce a Syk-dependent IL-8 gene and protein expression in SCC. Confocal microscopic data demonstrated the ability of the Syk inhibitor to change the subcellular distribution patterns of EGFR after EGF treatment in A431 and SAS cells. Moreover, according to Kaplan-Meier survival curve analysis, higher Syk expression is correlated with poorer patient survival rate and prognosis. Notably, both Syk and EGFR inhibitors could induce PARP activation, and synergistic cytotoxic actions were observed in SCC cells upon the combined treatment of the PARP1 inhibitor olaparib with Syk or the EGFR inhibitor. Collectively, we reported Syk as an important signalling molecule downstream of EGFR that plays crucial roles in SCC development. Combining Syk and PARP inhibition may represent an alternative therapeutic strategy for treating SCC.
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