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PLoS One. 2017 Jul 3;12(7):e0179884. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179884. eCollection 2017.

Depletion of runt-related transcription factor 2 (RUNX2) enhances SAHA sensitivity of p53-mutated pancreatic cancer cells through the regulation of mutant p53 and TAp63.

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Laboratory of DNA Damage Signaling, Chiba Cancer Center Research Institute, Chiba, Japan.
Department of Regenerative Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Toyama, Toyama, Japan.
Laboratory of Cancer Genetics, Chiba Cancer Center Research Institute, Chiba, Japan.
Research Center, Fourth Hospital of Hebei Medical University, Shijiazhuang, Hebei, P.R. China.


Suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA) represents one of the new class of anti-cancer drugs. However, multiple lines of clinical evidence indicate that SAHA might be sometimes ineffective on certain solid tumors including pancreatic cancer. In this study, we have found for the first time that RUNX2/mutant p53/TAp63-regulatory axis has a pivotal role in the determination of SAHA sensitivity of p53-mutated pancreatic cancer MiaPaCa-2 cells. According to our present results, MiaPaCa-2 cells responded poorly to SAHA. Forced depletion of mutant p53 stimulated SAHA-mediated cell death of MiaPaCa-2 cells, which was accomapanied by a further accumulation of γH2AX and cleaved PARP. Under these experimental conditions, pro-oncogenic RUNX2 was strongly down-regulated in mutant p53-depleted MiaPaCa-2 cells. Surprisingly, RUNX2 silencing augmented SAHA-dependent cell death of MiaPaCa-2 cells and caused a significant reduction of mutant p53. Consistent with these observations, overexpression of RUNX2 in MiaPaCa-2 cells restored SAHA-mediated decrease in cell viability and increased the amount of mutant p53. Thus, it is suggestive that there exists a positive auto-regulatory loop between RUNX2 and mutant p53, which might amplify their pro-oncogenic signals. Intriguingly, knockdown of mutant p53 or RUNX2 potentiated SAHA-induced up-regulation of TAp63. Indeed, SAHA-stimulated cell death of MiaPaCa-2 cells was partially attenuated by p63 depletion. Collectively, our present observations strongly suggest that RUNX2/mutant p53/TAp63-regulatory axis is one of the key determinants of SAHA sensitivity of p53-mutated pancreatic cancer cells.

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