Chromosomal passenger complex (CPC) has been demonstrated to be a potential target of cancer therapy by inhibiting Aurora B or survivin in different types of cancer including neuroblastoma. However, chemical inhibition of either Aurora B or survivin does not target CPC specifically due to off-target effects or CPC-independent activities of these two components. In a previous chromatin-focused siRNA screen, we found that neuroblastoma cells were particularly vulnerable to loss of INCENP, a gene encoding a key scaffolding component of the CPC. In this study, INCENP was highly expressed by neuroblastoma cells, and its expression decreased following retinoic acid-induced neuroblastoma differentiation. Elevated levels of INCENP were significantly associated with poor prognosis in primary tumors of neuroblastoma patients with high-risk disease. Genetic silencing of INCENP reduced the growth of both MYCN-wild-type and MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cell lines in vitro and decreased the growth of neuroblastoma xenografts in vivo, with significant increases in murine survival. Mechanistically, INCENP depletion suppressed neuroblastoma cell growth by inducing polyploidization, apoptosis, and senescence. In most neuroblastoma cell lines tested in vitro, apoptosis was the primary cell fate after INCENP silencing due to induction of DNA damage response and activation of the p53-p21 axis. These results confirm that CPC is a therapeutic target in neuroblastoma, and targeting INCENP is a novel way to disrupt the activity of CPC and inhibit tumor progression in neuroblastoma. SIGNIFICANCE: Dysregulation of INCENP contributes to neuroblastoma tumorigenesis and targeting INCENP presents a novel strategy to disrupt the activity of chromosomal passenger complex and inhibit neuroblastoma progression.
©2019 American Association for Cancer Research.