Molecular targeting of CSN5 in human hepatocellular carcinoma: A mechanism of therapeutic response

Y. H. Lee, A. D. Judge, D. Seo, M. Kitade, L. E. Gómez-Quiroz, T. Ishikawa, J. B. Andersen, B. K. Kim, J. U. Marquardt, C. Raggi, I. Avital, E. A. Conner, I. MacLachlan, V. M. Factor, S. S. Thorgeirsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


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-B, 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 Β1 (ITGB1), which were functionally interconnected with key oncogenic regulators MYC and TGFΒ1 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 TGFΒ1 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4175-4184
Number of pages10
Issue number40
StatePublished - 6 Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • CSN5
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • targeted siRNA therapeutics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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