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Significance of NOTCH1 Expression in the Progression of Human Lung and Colorectal Cancers

Maria V. Vasileva1, Natalia V. Khromova1, Boris P. Kopnin1, Vera B. Dugina2, and Pavel B. Kopnin1,a*

1Blokhin National Medical Research Center of Oncology, 115478 Moscow, Russia

2Belozersky Research Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119992 Moscow, Russia

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received June 16, 2022; Revised August 26, 2022; Accepted August 27, 2022
Lung and colorectal cancers are the most common types of cancer characterized by a poor prognosis and a high mortality rate. Mutations in the genes encoding components of the main intra- and extracellular signaling pathways, in particular the NOTCH1 gene (Notch1, a member of the Notch family of receptors), play one of the key roles in progression of these malignancies. Notch signaling is involved in maintaining homeostasis of the intestinal epithelium and structural and functional lung elements. Therefore, it is not surprising that the constitutive activity and hyperactivity of Notch signaling due to somatic mutations in genes coding for the products directly involved into its activation, could lead to the progression of these cancer types. The aim of our study was to investigate how the NOTCH1 downregulation via RNA interference (RNAi) affects the phenotype, characteristics, and Notch-dependent signaling of human A549 lung and HCT116 colorectal carcinoma cells. Several small harpin RNAs (shRNAs) were selected using the bioinformatic analysis and tested for their ability to suppress the NOTCH1 expression. The most efficient one was used to produce the A549 and HCT116 cells with NOTCH1 knockdown. The obtained cell lines demonstrated decreased proliferation rates, reduced colony-forming capacity under adhesive conditions, and decreased migration activity in a Boyden chamber. The NOTCH1 knockdown also significantly decreased expression of some Notch signaling target genes potentially involved in the acquisition and maintenance of more invasive and malignant cell phenotype. In vivo experiments in immunodeficient athymic female Balb/c nu/nu mice confirmed the results obtained in vitro: the NOTCH1 inhibition decreased the growth rates of the subcutaneous xenografts formed by A549 and HCT116 tumor cells. Therefore, downregulation of the gene encoding the Notch1 receptor potentially reduces malignant characteristics of human lung and colorectal carcinoma cells.
KEY WORDS: lung cancer, colorectal cancer, Notch signaling, tumor progression, proliferation, invasion, nude mice assay

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297922100133