Genomic and functional characterizations of phosphodiesterase subtype 4D in human cancers

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Apr 9;110(15):6109-14. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1218206110. Epub 2013 Mar 27.


Discovery of cancer genes through interrogation of genomic dosage is one of the major approaches in cancer research. In this study, we report that phosphodiesterase subtype 4D (PDE4D) gene was homozygously deleted in 198 cases of 5,569 primary solid tumors (3.56%), with most being internal microdeletions. Unexpectedly, the microdeletions did not result in loss of their gene products. Screening PDE4D expression in 11 different types of primary tumor samples (n = 165) with immunohistochemistry staining revealed that its protein levels were up-regulated compared with corresponding nontransformed tissues. Importantly, depletion of endogenous PDE4D with three independent shRNAs caused apoptosis and growth inhibition in multiple types of cancer cells, including breast, lung, ovary, endometrium, gastric, and melanoma, which could be rescued by reexpression of PDE4D. We further showed that antitumor events triggered by PDE4D suppression were lineage-dependently associated with Bcl-2 interacting mediator of cell death (BIM) induction and microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) down-regulation. Furthermore, ectopic expression of the PDE4D short isoform, PDE4D2, enhanced the proliferation of cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, treatment of cancer cells with a unique specific PDE4D inhibitor, 26B, triggered massive cell death and growth retardation. Notably, these antineoplastic effects induced by either shRNAs or small molecule occurred preferentially in cancer cells but not in nonmalignant epithelial cells. These results suggest that although targeted by genomic homozygous microdeletions, PDE4D functions as a tumor-promoting factor and represents a unique targetable enzyme of cancer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Death
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 3 / genetics*
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 4
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism


  • MITF protein, human
  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 3
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Phosphodiesterases, Type 4
  • PDE4D protein, human