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Genes Cancer. 2011 May;2(5):576-84. doi: 10.1177/1947601911412375.

Ranpirnase Interferes with NF-κB Pathway and MMP9 Activity, Inhibiting Malignant Mesothelioma Cell Invasiveness and Xenograft Growth.

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  • 1University of Hawai'i Cancer Center, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, USA.


The ribonuclease ranpirnase (Onconase) has been used empirically to treat malignant mesothelioma (MM) patients, and some of them had prolonged survivals. The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanisms of the therapeutic function of ranpirnase in MM cells. The effects of ranpirnase were studied in vivo and in vitro on 2 MM cell lines (epithelioid REN and sarcomatoid PPM-Mill). We found that ranpirnase was able to inhibit NF-κB nuclear translocation, evaluated by cell fractionation and immunoblotting as well as by immunofluorescence. Also, MMP9 secretion by MM cells was decreased by ranpirnase treatment, as assessed by the reduction of metalloproteinase activity, evaluated by zymography on culture-conditioned media. Ranpirnase induced apoptosis of MM cells in vitro and in vivo, causing a powerful inhibition of MM tumor growth in SCID xenografts, determined by In Vivo Imaging System (IVIS) of tumor cells engineered by lentiviral transduction of the luciferase gene. Finally, mice treated with ranpirnase showed a significantly prolonged survival. Our data provide a mechanistic rationale to explain the beneficial antitumor activity observed in some patients treated with ranpirnase and demonstrate that ranpirnase interferes with the NF-κB pathway, thus influencing MM tumor cell invasiveness and survival. It is hoped that this information will also facilitate the identification of those patients who are more likely to benefit from this drug and will also open a new frontier for the use of this drug in tumor types other than MM.


MMP9; NF-κB; TNF-α; mesothelioma; ranpirnase

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