Inhibition of PIM2 in liver cancer decreases tumor cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo primarily through the modulation of cell cycle progression
- Pia Kronschnabl
- Arnold Grünweller
- Roland K. Hartmann
- Achim Aigner
- Ulrike Weirauch
Affiliations: Rudolf‑Boehm‑Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology, Clinical Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Leipzig, D‑04107 Leipzig, Germany, Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Philipps‑University Marburg, D‑35037 Marburg, Germany
- Published online on: December 10, 2019 https://doi.org/10.3892/ijo.2019.4936
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et al. This is an open access article distributed under the
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Liver cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer‑related mortality worldwide with limited therapeutic options. Thus, novel treatment strategies are urgently required. While the oncogenic kinase, proviral integration site for Moloney murine leukemia virus 2 (PIM2), has been shown to be overexpressed in liver cancer, little is known about the role of PIM2 in this tumor entity. In this study, we explored the functional relevance and therapeutic potential of PIM2 in liver cancer. Using PIM2‑specific siRNAs, we examined the effects of PIM2 knockdown on proliferation (WST‑1 assays and spheroid assays), 3D‑colony formation and colony spread, apoptosis (flow cytometry and caspase 3/caspase 7 activity), as well as cell cycle progression (flow cytometry, RT‑qPCR and western blot analysis) in the two liver cancer cell lines, HepG2 and Huh‑7. In subcutaneous liver cancer xenografts, we assessed the effects of PIM2 knockdown on tumor growth via the systemic delivery of polyethylenimine (PEI)‑complexed siRNA. The knockdown of PIM2 resulted in potent anti‑proliferative effects in cells grown on plastic dishes, as well as in spheroids. This was due to G0/G1 cell cycle blockade and the subsequent downregulation of genes related to the S phase as well as the G2/M phase of the cell cycle, whereas the apoptotic rates remained unaltered. Furthermore, colony formation and colony spread were markedly inhibited by PIM2 knockdown. Notably, we found that HepG2 cells were more sensitive to PIM2 knockdown than the Huh‑7 cells. In vivo, the therapeutic nanoparticle‑mediated delivery of PIM2 siRNA led to profound anti‑tumor effects in a liver cancer xenograft mouse model. On the whole, the findings of this study underscore the oncogenic role of PIM2 and emphasize the potential of targeted therapies based on the specific inhibition of PIM2 in liver cancer.