© 2017, Spandidos Publications. All rights reserved. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-associated mortality in the United States. Kinase hyperactivation is a known mechanism of tumorigenesis. The phosphorylation status of the plasma membrane-associated protein myristoylated alanine rich C-kinase substrate (MARCKS) effector domain (ED) was previously established as being important in the sensitivity of lung cancer to radiation. Specifically, when MARCKS ED was in a non-phosphorylated state, lung cancer cells were more susceptible to ionizing radiation and experienced prolonged double-strand DNA breaks. Additional studies demonstrated that the phosphorylation status of MARCKS ED is important for gene expression and in vivo tumor growth. The present study used a peptide mimetic of MARCKS ED as a therapeutic intervention to modulate MARCKS phosphorylation. Culturing A549, H1792 and H1975 lung cancer cell lines with the MARCKS ED peptide led to reduced levels of phosphorylated MARCKS and phosphorylated Akt serine/threonine kinase 1. Further investigation demonstrated that the peptide therapy was able to reduce lung cancer cell proliferation and increase radiation sensitivity. In addition, the MARCKS peptide therapy was able to prolong double-strand DNA breaks following ionizing radiation exposure. The results of the present study demonstrate that a peptide mimetic of MARCKS ED is able to modulate MARCKS phosphorylation, leading to an increase in sensitivity to radiation.