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Cancer Res. 2018 Aug 15;78(16):4599-4612. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-4060. Epub 2018 Jun 19.

Inactivation of Citron Kinase Inhibits Medulloblastoma Progression by Inducing Apoptosis and Cell Senescence.

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Department of Molecular Biotechnology and Health Sciences, University of Turin, Torino, Italy.
Neuroscience Institute Cavalieri Ottolenghi, University of Turin, Torino, Italy.
Division of Stem Cells and Cancer, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and DKFZ-ZMBH Alliance, Heidelberg, Germany.
Heidelberg Institute for Stem Cell Technology and Experimental Medicine (HI-STEM gGmbH), Heidelberg, Germany.
Department of Molecular Biotechnology and Health Sciences, University of Turin, Torino, Italy.
Department of Neuroscience, University of Turin, Torino, Italy.
Contributed equally


Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in children. Current treatment for medulloblastoma consists of surgery followed by irradiation of the whole neuraxis and high-dose multiagent chemotherapy, a partially effective strategy associated with highly invalidating side effects. Therefore, identification and validation of novel target molecules capable of contrasting medulloblastoma growth without disturbing brain development is needed. Citron kinase protein (CITK), encoded by primary microcephaly gene MCPH17, is required for normal proliferation and survival of neural progenitors. Constitutive loss of CITK leads to cytokinesis failure, chromosome instability, and apoptosis in the developing brain, but has limited effects on other tissues. On this basis, we hypothesized that CITK could be an effective target for medulloblastoma treatment. In medulloblastoma cell lines DAOY and ONS-76, CITK knockdown increased both cytokinesis failure and DNA damage, impairing proliferation and inducing cell senescence and apoptosis via TP53 or TP73. Similar effects were obtained in the NeuroD-SmoA1 transgenic mouse model, in which CITK deletion increased apoptotic cells and senescence markers such as P21CIP1, P27KIP1, and P16INK4A Most importantly, CITK deletion decreased tumor growth and increased overall survival in these mice, with no apparent side effects. These results suggest that CITK can be a useful molecular target for medulloblastoma treatment.Significance:In vitro and in vivo proof of concept identifies citron kinase protein as a suitable target for medulloblastoma treatment.Graphical Abstract: Cancer Res; 78(16); 4599-612. ©2018 AACR.

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