Therapeutic Targeting of CDK7 Suppresses Tumor Progression in Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma

Therapeutic Targeting of CDK7 Suppresses Tumor Progression in Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma

Abstract

Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) is a lethal malignancy with high mortality and lack of effective therapeutic targets. Here, we found that expression of cyclin-dependent kinase 7 (CDK7) was significantly associated with higher tumor grade and worse prognosis in 96 ICC specimens. Depletion of CDK7 significantly inhibited cell growth, induced a G2/M cell cycle arrest, and reduced the migratory and invasive potential in ICC cells. Subsequent experiments demonstrated that ICC cells were highly sensitive to the CDK7 inhibitor THZ1. A low concentration of THZ1 markedly inhibited cell growth, cell cycle, migration, and invasion in ICC cell lines. RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis revealed that THZ1 treatment decreased the levels of massive oncogene transcripts, particularly those associated with cell cycle and cell migration. Quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR (qRT-PCR) analysis confirmed that transcription of oncogenes involved in cell cycle regulation (AURKA, AURKB, CDC25B, CDK1CCNA2, and MKI67) and the c-Met pathway (c-Met, AKT1, PTK2, CRK, PDPK1, and ARF6) was selectively repressed by THZ1. In addition, THZ1 exhibited significant anti-tumor activity in a patient-derived xenograft (PDX) model of ICC, without causing detectable side effects.

Keywords: Cell cycle; Cyclin-dependent Kinase 7; Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma; THZ1; c-Met.

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