Knockdown of β-catenin with dicer-substrate siRNAs reduces liver tumor burden in vivo

Mol Ther. 2014 Jan;22(1):92-101. doi: 10.1038/mt.2013.233. Epub 2013 Oct 3.


Despite progress in identifying molecular drivers of cancer, it has been difficult to translate this knowledge into new therapies, because many of the causal proteins cannot be inhibited by conventional small molecule therapeutics. RNA interference (RNAi), which uses small RNAs to inhibit gene expression, provides a promising alternative to reach traditionally undruggable protein targets by shutting off their expression at the messenger RNA (mRNA) level. Challenges for realizing the potential of RNAi have included identifying the appropriate genes to target and achieving sufficient knockdown in tumors. We have developed high-potency Dicer-substrate short-interfering RNAs (DsiRNAs) targeting β-catenin and delivered these in vivo using lipid nanoparticles, resulting in significant reduction of β-catenin expression in liver cancer models. Reduction of β-catenin strongly reduced tumor burden, alone or in combination with sorafenib and as effectively as DsiRNAs that target mitotic genes such as PLK1 and KIF11. β-catenin knockdown also strongly reduced the expression of β-catenin-regulated genes, including MYC, providing a potential mechanism for tumor inhibition. These results validate β-catenin as a target for liver cancer therapy and demonstrate the promise of RNAi in general and DsiRNAs in particular for reaching traditionally undruggable cancer targets.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Liver Neoplasms / immunology
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Nanoparticles / administration & dosage
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA, Small Interfering / chemistry
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Ribonuclease III / metabolism
  • Tumor Burden / genetics
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays
  • beta Catenin / genetics*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism


  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • beta Catenin
  • Ribonuclease III