Role of hedgehog signaling in malignant pleural mesothelioma

Yandong Shi, Ubiratan Moura, Isabelle Opitz, Alex Soltermann, Hubert Rehrauer, Svenja Thies, Walter Weder, Rolf A Stahel, Emanuela Felley-Bosco
Clinical Cancer Research 2012 September 1, 18 (17): 4646-56

PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to assess the activity of hedgehog signaling pathway in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).

EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: The expression of hedgehog signaling components was assessed by quantitative PCR and in situ hybridization in 45 clinical samples. Primary MPM cultures were developed in serum-free condition in 3% oxygen and were used to investigate the effects of smoothened (SMO) inhibitors or GLI1 silencing on cell growth and hedgehog signaling. In vivo effects of SMO antagonists were determined in an MPM xenograft growing in nude mice.

RESULTS: A significant increase in GLI1, sonic hedgehog, and human hedgehog interacting protein gene expression was observed in MPM tumors compared with nontumoral pleural tissue. SMO antagonists inhibited GLI1 expression and cell growth in sensitive primary cultures. This effect was mimicked by GLI1 silencing. Reduced survivin and YAP protein levels were also observed. Survivin protein levels were rescued by overexpression of GLI1 or constitutively active YAP1. Treatment of tumor-bearing mice with the SMO inhibitor HhAntag led to a significant inhibition of tumor growth in vivo accompanied by decreased Ki-67 and nuclear YAP immunostaining and a significant difference in selected gene expression profile in tumors.

CONCLUSIONS: An aberrant hedgehog signaling is present in MPM, and inhibition of hedgehog signaling decreases tumor growth indicating potential new therapeutic approach.

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