Research Papers:

Regulation of DNA Damage Following Termination of Hedgehog (HH) Survival Signaling at the level of the GLI Genes in Human Colon Cancer

AKWASI AGYEMAN, Tapati Mazumdar and Janet A Houghton _

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Oncotarget. 2012; 3:854-868. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.586

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Akwasi Agyeman1, Tapati Mazumdar1, Janet A. Houghton1

1 Department of Cancer Biology, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH.


Janet A. Houghton, email:

Keywords: Hedgehog, GLI1/GLI2 inhibition, GANT61, DNA damage, colon cancer

Received: August 03, 2012, Accepted: August 18, 2012, Published: August 20, 2012


Transcriptional regulation of the Hedgehog (HH) signaling response is mediated by GLI genes (GLI1, GLI2) downstream of SMO, that are also activated by oncogenic signaling pathways. We have demonstrated the importance of targeting GLI downstream of SMO in the induction of cell death in human colon carcinoma cells. In HT29 cells inhibition of GLI1/GLI2 by the small molecule inhibitor GANT61 induced DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) and activation of ATM, MDC1 and NBS1; γH2AX and MDC1, NBS1 and MDC1 co-localized in nuclear foci. Early activation of ATM was decreased by 24 hr, when p-NBS1Ser343, activated by ATM, was significantly reduced in cell extracts. Bound γH2AX was detected in isolated chromatin fractions or nuclei during DNA damage but not during DNA repair. MDC1 was tightly bound to chromatin at 32 hr as cells accumulated in early S-phase prior to becoming subG1, and during DNA repair. Limited binding of NBS1 was detected at all times during DNA damage but was strongly bound during DNA repair. Transient overexpression of NBS1 protected HT29 cells from GANT61-induced cell death, while knockdown of H2AX by H2AXshRNA delayed DNA damage signaling. Data demonstrate following GLI1/GLI2 inhibition: 1) induction of DNA damage in cells that are also resistant to SMO inhibitors, 2) dynamic interactions between γH2AX, MDC1 and NBS1 in single cell nuclei and in isolated chromatin fractions, 3) expression and chromatin binding properties of key mediator proteins that mark DNA damage or DNA repair, and 4) the importance of NBS1 in the DNA damage response mechanism.

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