The Hedgehog processing pathway is required for NSCLC growth and survival

J. Rodriguez-Blanco, N. S. Schilling, R. Tokhunts, C. Giambelli, J. Long, D. Liang Fei, S. Singh, K. E. Black, Z. Wang, F. Galimberti, P. A. Bejarano, S. Elliot, M. K. Glassberg, D. M. Nguyen, W. W. Lockwood, W. L. Lam, E. Dmitrovsky, A. J. Capobianco, D. J. Robbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Considerable interest has been generated from the results of recent clinical trials using smoothened (SMO) antagonists to inhibit the growth of hedgehog (HH) signaling-dependent tumors. This interest is tempered by the discovery of SMO mutations mediating resistance, underscoring the rationale for developing therapeutic strategies that interrupt HH signaling at levels distinct from those inhibiting SMO function. Here, we demonstrate that HH-dependent non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) growth is sensitive to blockade of the HH pathway upstream of SMO, at the level of HH ligand processing. Individually, the use of different lentivirally delivered shRNA constructs targeting two functionally distinct HH-processing proteins, skinny hedgehog (SKN) or dispatched-1 (DISP-1), in NSCLC cell lines produced similar decreases in cell proliferation and increased cell death. Further, providing either an exogenous source of processed HH or a SMO agonist reverses these effects. The attenuation of HH processing, by knocking down either of these gene products, also abrogated tumor growth in mouse xenografts. Finally, we extended these findings to primary clinical specimens, showing that SKN is frequently overexpressed in NSCLC and that higher DISP-1 expression is associated with an unfavorable clinical outcome. Our results show a critical role for HH processing in HH-dependent tumors, identifies two potential druggable targets in the HH pathway, and suggest that similar therapeutic strategies could be explored to treat patients harboring HH ligand-dependent cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2335-2345
Number of pages11
Issue number18
StatePublished - May 2 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • dispatched
  • hedgehog
  • hedgehog acyltransferase
  • lung cancer
  • skinny hedgehog

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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