Research Papers:

Combined effects of PLK1 and RAS in hepatocellular carcinoma reveal rigosertib as promising novel therapeutic "dual-hit" option

Peter Dietrich, Kim Freese, Abdo Mahli, Wolfgang Erwin Thasler, Claus Hellerbrand _ and Anja Katrin Bosserhoff

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:3605-3618. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.23188

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Peter Dietrich1, Kim Freese1, Abdo Mahli1, Wolfgang Erwin Thasler2, Claus Hellerbrand1,3 and Anja Katrin Bosserhoff1,3

1Institute of Biochemistry, Emil-Fischer-Zentrum, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany

2Biobank o.b. HTCR, Department of General Visceral- and Transplantation Surgery, Ludwig-Maximilians-University München, München, Germany

3Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) Erlangen-EMN, Erlangen, Germany

Correspondence to:

Claus Hellerbrand, email: [email protected]

Keywords: HCC; HRAS; PLK1; RAS; rigosertib

Received: October 21, 2017     Accepted: December 03, 2017     Published: December 11, 2017


Inhibition of RAS-RAF-ERK-signaling is a major mechanism mediated by the multi-kinase inhibitors sorafenib and regorafenib, the only effective therapeutic approaches for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This underlines the importance of RAS-RAF-ERK-signaling in HCC. Most RAS isoforms were not yet described to play crucial roles in HCC. However, several studies indicate that the HRAS isoform can function as potent oncogene in HCC, but pharmacologic RAS inhibition has not yet been investigated. Moreover, the cell cycle promoting polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) is an increasingly recognized therapeutic target in HCC that can be activated by RAS-RAF-signaling.

A recently developed small molecule inhibitor, ON-01910 ("rigosertib", RGS), was shown to interfere with both RAS- and PLK1-signaling. The aim of this study was to analyze the effects of RGS in HCC and to assess PLK1 and HRAS expression in HCC. RGS treatment reduced cell proliferation and induced cell cycle arrest in human HCC cell lines in vitro. Moreover, RGS strongly inhibited both ERK- and AKT-activation in HCC cells, indicating disruption of RAS-signaling.

Analysis of HCC patient data showed that PLK1 and HRAS expression levels are upregulated during HCC development and in advanced HCC, respectively. High expression levels of PLK1 significantly correlated with poor patient survival. Moreover, high expression of both PLK1 and HRAS revealed combined effects on patient outcome. This underscores the importance of these genes and associated pathways in HCC. We newly demonstrate the therapeutic potential of RGS in HCC by inhibition of both PLK1 activation and major RAS-pathways, revealing a novel therapeutic "dual-hit" approach for HCC.

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