Nucleolin-aptamer therapy in retinoblastoma: molecular changes and mass spectrometry-based imaging

Mol Ther Nucleic Acids. 2016 Aug 30;5(8):e358. doi: 10.1038/mtna.2016.70.


Retinoblastoma (RB) is an intraocular childhood tumor which, if left untreated, leads to blindness and mortality. Nucleolin (NCL) protein which is differentially expressed on the tumor cell surface, binds ligands and regulates carcinogenesis and angiogenesis. We found that NCL is over expressed in RB tumor tissues and cell lines compared to normal retina. We studied the effect of nucleolin-aptamer (NCL-APT) to reduce proliferation in RB tumor cells. Aptamer treatment on the RB cell lines (Y79 and WERI-Rb1) led to significant inhibition of cell proliferation. Locked nucleic acid (LNA) modified NCL-APT administered subcutaneously (s.c.) near tumor or intraperitoneally (i.p.) in Y79 xenografted nude mice resulted in 26 and 65% of tumor growth inhibition, respectively. Downregulation of inhibitor of apoptosis proteins, tumor miRNA-18a, altered serum cytokines, and serum miRNA-18a levels were observed upon NCL-APT treatment. Desorption electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (DESI MS)-based imaging of cell lines and tumor tissues revealed changes in phosphatidylcholines levels upon treatment. Thus, our study provides proof of concept illustrating NCL-APT-based targeted therapeutic strategy and use of DESI MS-based lipid imaging in monitoring therapeutic responses in RB.