Suppression of the solar ultraviolet-induced skin carcinogenesis by TOPK inhibitor HI-TOPK-032

Oncogene. 2020 May;39(21):4170-4182. doi: 10.1038/s41388-020-1286-4. Epub 2020 Apr 10.


Nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) such as cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) is caused by solar ultraviolet (SUV) exposure and is the most common cancer in the United States. T-LAK cell-originated protein kinase (TOPK), a serine-threonine kinase is activated by SUV irradiation and involved in skin carcinogenesis. Strategies with research focusing on the TOPK signaling pathway and targeted therapy in skin carcinogenesis may helpful for the discovery of additional treatments against skin cancer. In this study, we found that TOPK can directly bind to and phosphorylate c-Jun (as one of the core member of AP-1) at Ser63 and Ser73 after SSL exposure in a JNKs-independent manner. TOPK knocking down, or HI-TOPK-032 (TOPK specific inhibitor) attenuated colony formation and cell proliferation of skin cancer cells. Phosphorylated levels of c-Jun were overexpressed in human AK and cSCC compared with normal skin tissues, and HI-TOPK-032 inhibited the phosphorylation of c-Jun in SCC cell line in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, HI-TOPK-032 decreased SSL-induced AP-1 transactivation activity. Moreover, acute SSL-induced inflammation was attenuated by the topical application of HI-TOPK-032 in SKH1 hairless mice. Importantly, HI-TOPK-032 suppressed chronic SSL-induced skin carcinogenesis and c-Jun phosphorylation levels in SKH1 hairless mice. Our results demonstrate that TOPK can phosphorylate and activate c-Jun at Ser63 and Ser73 in the process of skin carcinogenesis and HI-TOPK-032 could be used as a potential chemopreventive drug against cSCC development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis* / drug effects
  • Carcinogenesis* / genetics
  • Carcinogenesis* / metabolism
  • Carcinogenesis* / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Indolizines / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Hairless
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases* / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases* / genetics
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases* / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Proteins* / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Neoplasm Proteins* / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins* / metabolism
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Quinoxalines / pharmacology*
  • Skin Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Skin Neoplasms* / enzymology
  • Skin Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Sunlight / adverse effects*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*


  • Indolizines
  • N-(12-cyanoindolizino(2,3-b)quinoxalin-2-yl)thiophene-2-carboxamide
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Quinoxalines
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
  • PDZ-binding kinase
  • TOPK protein, mouse