As most chemotherapeutic drugs are ineffective in the treatment of chondrosarcoma, we studied the expression pattern and function of SOX9, the master transcription factor for chondrogenesis, in chondrosarcoma, to understand the basic molecular principles needed for engineering new targeted therapies. Our study shows an increase in SOX9 expression in chondrosarcoma compared to normal cartilage, but a decrease when the tumors are finally defined as dedifferentiated chondrosarcoma (DDCS). In DDCS, SOX9 is almost completely absent in the non-chondroid, dedifferentiated compartments. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockout of SOX9 in a human chondrosarcoma cell line (HTB94) results in reduced proliferation, clonogenicity and migration, accompanied by an inability to activate MMP13. In contrast, adhesion, apoptosis and polyploidy formation are favored after SOX9 deletion, probably involving BCL2 and survivin. The siRNA-mediated SOX9 knockdown partially confirmed these results, suggesting the need for a certain SOX9 threshold for particular cancer-related events. To increase the efficacy of chondrosarcoma therapies, potential therapeutic approaches were analyzed in SOX9 knockout cells. Here, we found an increased impact of doxorubicin, but a reduced sensitivity for oncolytic virus treatment. Our observations present novel insight into the role of SOX9 in chondrosarcoma biology and could thereby help to overcome the obstacle of drug resistance and limited therapy options.
Keywords: CRISPR/Cas9; MMP13; SOX9; chondrosarcoma; polyploidy; transcription factor.