Effects of pyrrole-imidazole polyamides targeting human TGF-β1 on the malignant phenotypes of liver cancer cells

Keiko Takagi, Yutaka Midorikawa, Tadatoshi Takayama, Hayato Abe, Kyoko Fujiwara, Masayoshi Soma, Hiroki Nagase, Toshio Miki, Noboru Fukuda

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Synthetic pyrrole-imidazole (PI) polyamides bind to the minor groove of double-helical DNA with high affinity and specificity, and inhibit the transcription of corresponding genes. In liver cancer, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β expression is correlated with tumor grade, and high-grade liver cancer tissues express epithelial-mesenchymal transition markers. TGF-β1 was reported to be involved in cancer development by transforming precancer cells to cancer stem cells (CSCs). This study aimed to evaluate the effects of TGF-β1-targeting PI polyamide on the growth of liver cancer cells and CSCs and their TGF-β1 expression. We analyzed TGF-β1 expression level after the administration of GB1101, a PI polyamide that targets human TGF-β1 promoter, and examined its effects on cell proliferation, invasiveness, and TGF-β1 mRNA expression level. GB1101 treatment dose-dependently decreased TGF-β1 mRNA levels in HepG2 and HLF cells, and inhibited HepG2 colony formation associated with downregulation of TGF-β1 mRNA. Although GB1101 did not substantially inhibit the proliferation of HepG2 cells compared to untreated control cells, GB1101 significantly suppressed the invasion of HLF cells, which displayed high expression of CD44, a marker for CSCs. Furthermore, GB1101 significantly inhibited HLF cell sphere formation by inhibiting TGF-β1 expression, in addition to suppressing the proliferation of HLE and HLF cells. Taken together, GB1101 reduced TGF-β1 expression in liver cancer cells and suppressed cell invasion; therefore, GB1101 is a novel candidate drug for the treatment of liver cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2883
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Cancer stem cell
  • Liver cancer
  • Novel candidate drug
  • Pyrrole-imidazole polyamide
  • TGF-β1


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