Direct Pharmacological Inhibition of β-Catenin by RNA Interference in Tumors of Diverse Origin

Mol Cancer Ther. 2016 Sep;15(9):2143-54. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-16-0309. Epub 2016 Jul 7.


The Wnt/β-catenin pathway is among the most frequently altered signaling networks in human cancers. Despite decades of preclinical and clinical research, efficient therapeutic targeting of Wnt/β-catenin has been elusive. RNA interference (RNAi) technology silences genes at the mRNA level and therefore can be applied to previously undruggable targets. Lipid nanoparticles (LNP) represent an elegant solution for the delivery of RNAi-triggering oligonucleotides to disease-relevant tissues, but have been mostly restricted to applications in the liver. In this study, we systematically tuned the composition of a prototype LNP to enable tumor-selective delivery of a Dicer-substrate siRNA (DsiRNA) targeting CTNNB1, the gene encoding β-catenin. This formulation, termed EnCore-R, demonstrated pharmacodynamic activity in subcutaneous human tumor xenografts, orthotopic patient-derived xenograft (PDX) tumors, disseminated hematopoietic tumors, genetically induced primary liver tumors, metastatic colorectal tumors, and murine metastatic melanoma. DsiRNA delivery was homogeneous in tumor sections, selective over normal liver and independent of apolipoprotein-E binding. Significant tumor growth inhibition was achieved in Wnt-dependent colorectal and hepatocellular carcinoma models, but not in Wnt-independent tumors. Finally, no evidence of accelerated blood clearance or sustained liver transaminase elevation was observed after repeated dosing in nonhuman primates. These data support further investigation to gain mechanistic insight, optimize dose regimens, and identify efficacious combinations with standard-of-care therapeutics. Mol Cancer Ther; 15(9); 2143-54. ©2016 AACR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apolipoproteins E / chemistry
  • Apolipoproteins E / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Gene Silencing
  • Humans
  • Lipids / chemistry
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Male
  • Melanoma, Experimental
  • Mice
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • RNA Interference*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / administration & dosage
  • RNA, Small Interfering / chemistry
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays
  • beta Catenin / genetics*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism
  • ras Proteins / genetics
  • ras Proteins / metabolism


  • Apolipoproteins E
  • Lipids
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • beta Catenin
  • ras Proteins