Our most recent progress in this project include:(1)Development of targeted therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains a major challenge. We have recently identified an elevated expression of the fifth subunit of COP9 signalosome (CSN5) in early HCC as compared with dysplastic stage. In the present study, we explored the possibility of CSN5 being a potential therapeutic target for HCC. Our results show that CSN5 knockdown by small-interfering (si) RNA caused a strong induction of apoptosis and inhibition of cell-cycle progression in HCC cells in vitro. The down-regulation of CSN5 was sufficient to interfere with CSN function as evidenced by the accumulation of neddylated Cullin 1 and changes in the protein levels of CSN-controlled substrates SKP2, p53, p27 and nuclear factor-kB, albeit to a different degree depending on the HCC cell line, which could account for the CSN5 knockdown phenotype. The transcriptomic analysis of CSN5 knockdown signature showed that the anti-proliferative effect was driven by a common subset of molecular alterations including down-regulation of cyclin-dependent kinase 6 (CDK6) and integrin beta1 (ITGB1), which were functionally interconnected with key oncogenic regulators MYC and TGFb1 involved in the control of proliferation, apoptotic cell death and HCC progression. Consistent with microarray analysis, western blotting revealed that CSN5 depletion increased phosphorylation of Smad 2/3, key mediators of TGFb1 signaling, decreased the protein levels of ITGB1, CDK6 and cyclin D1 and caused reduced expression of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2, while elevating the levels of pro-apoptotic Bak. A chemically modified variant of CSN5 siRNA was then selected for in vivo application based on the growth inhibitory effect and minimal induction of unwanted immune response. Systemic delivery of the CSN5 3/8 variant by stable-nucleic-acid-lipid particles significantly suppressed the tumor growth in Huh7-luc(+) orthotopic xenograft model. Taken together, these results indicate that CSN5 has a pivotal role in HCC pathogenesis and maybe an attractive molecular target for systemic HCC therapy.(2) The ubiquitination modulator COP1 regulates p53 activity by ubiquitination and it is frequently overexpressed in human HCC. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that COP1 blockade by short interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated inhibition could affect the course of HCC progression. The COP1 isoform COP1-1 was selected as the most effective target for siRNAs in terms of growth inhibition and apoptotic induction in several HCC cell lines. Growth inhibition occurred in HCC cells that retained wild-type p53 or expressed mutant p53 (Y220C or R249S), whereas p53-null Hep3B cells were resistant. Microarray expression analysis revealed that the antiproliferative effects of COP1 blockade were driven by a common subset of molecular alterations including a p53-associated functional network. In an orthotopic mouse xenograft model of HCC, systemic delivery of a modified COP1 siRNA by stable nucleic acid-lipid particles suppressed neoplastic growth in liver without unwanted immune responses. Our findings offer a first proof of principle that COP1 can be a promising target for systemic therapy of HCC.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Investigator-Initiated Intramural Research Projects (ZIA)
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National Cancer Institute Division of Basic Sciences
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Andersen, Jesper B; Thorgeirsson, Snorri S (2013) Genomic decoding of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma reveals therapeutic opportunities. Gastroenterology 144:687-90
Wang, P; Dong, Q; Zhang, C et al. (2013) Mutations in isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 and 2 occur frequently in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas and share hypermethylation targets with glioblastomas. Oncogene 32:3091-100
Andersen, Jesper B; Spee, Bart; Blechacz, Boris R et al. (2012) Genomic and genetic characterization of cholangiocarcinoma identifies therapeutic targets for tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Gastroenterology 142:1021-1031.e15
Oishi, Naoki; Kumar, Mia R; Roessler, Stephanie et al. (2012) Transcriptomic profiling reveals hepatic stem-like gene signatures and interplay of miR-200c and epithelial-mesenchymal transition in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. Hepatology 56:1792-803
Andersen, Jesper B; Thorgeirsson, Snorri S (2012) Genetic profiling of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. Curr Opin Gastroenterol 28:266-72
Lee, Y-H; Judge, A D; Seo, D et al. (2011) Molecular targeting of CSN5 in human hepatocellular carcinoma: a mechanism of therapeutic response. Oncogene 30:4175-84
Lee, Yun-Han; Andersen, Jesper B; Song, Ho-Taek et al. (2010) Definition of ubiquitination modulator COP1 as a novel therapeutic target in human hepatocellular carcinoma. Cancer Res 70:8264-9
Wang, Xin Wei; Thorgeirsson, Snorri S (2009) Transcriptome analysis of liver cancer: ready for the clinic? J Hepatol 50:1062-4