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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e55743. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055743. Epub 2013 Feb 7.

Silencing mutated β-catenin inhibits cell proliferation and stimulates apoptosis in the adrenocortical cancer cell line H295R.

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Institut Cochin, Université Paris Descartes, CNRS (UMR 8104), Paris, France.



Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare and highly aggressive endocrine neoplasm, with limited therapeutic options. Activating β-catenin somatic mutations are found in ACC and have been associated with a poor clinical outcome. In fact, activation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway seems to play a major role in ACC aggressiveness, and might, thus, represent a promising therapeutic target.


Similar to patient tumor specimen the H295 cell line derived from an ACC harbors a natural activating β-catenin mutation. We herein assess the in vitro and in vivo effect of β-catenin inactivation using a doxycyclin (dox) inducible shRNA plasmid in H295R adrenocortical cancer cells line (clone named shβ).


Following dox treatment a profound reduction in β-catenin expression was detectable in shβ clones in comparison to control clones (Ctr). Accordingly, we observed a decrease in Wnt/βcatenin-dependent luciferase reporter activity as well as a decreased expression of AXIN2 representing an endogenous β-catenin target gene. Concomitantly, β-catenin silencing resulted in a decreased cell proliferation, cell cycle alterations with cell accumulation in the G1 phase and increased apoptosis in vitro. In vivo, on established tumor xenografts in athymic nude mice, 9 days of β-catenin silencing resulted in a significant reduction of CTNNB1 and AXIN2 expression. Moreover, continous β-catenin silencing, starting 3 days after tumor cell inoculation, was associated with a complete absence of tumor growth in the shβ group while tumors were present in all animals of the control group.


In summary, these experiments provide evidences that Wnt/β-catenin pathway inhibition in ACC is a promising therapeutic target.

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