Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS) is the muscle-derived tumor retaining myogenic ability. iSN04 and AS1411, which are myogenetic oligodeoxynucleotides (myoDNs) serving as anti-nucleolin aptamers, have been reported to inhibit the proliferation and induce the differentiation of myoblasts. The present study investigated the effects of iSN04 and AS1411 in vitro on the growth of multiple patient-derived ERMS cell lines, ERMS1, KYM1, and RD. RT-PCR and immunostaining revealed that nucleolin was abundantly expressed and localized in nucleoplasm and nucleoli in all ERMS cell lines, similar to myoblasts. Both iSN04 and AS1411 at final concentrations of 10-30 μM significantly decreased the number of all ERMS cells; however, their optimal conditions were different among the cell lines. In all ERMS cell lines, iSN04 at a final concentration of 10 μM markedly reduced the ratio of EdU+ cells, indicating the inhibition of cell proliferation. Quantitative RT-PCR or immunostaining of phosphorylated histone H3 and myosin heavy chain demonstrated that iSN04 suppressed the cell cycle and partially promoted myogenesis but did not induce apoptosis in ERMS cells. Finally, both iSN04 and AS1411 at final concentrations of 10-30 μM disrupted the formation and outgrowth of RD tumorspheres in three-dimensional culture mimicking in vivo tumorigenesis. In conclusion, ERMS cells expressed nucleolin, and their growth was inhibited by the anti-nucleolin aptamers, iSN04 and AS1411, which modulates several cell cycle-related and myogenic gene expression. The present study provides evidence that anti-nucleolin aptamers can be used as nucleic acid drugs for chemotherapy against ERMS.
Keywords: aptamer; embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma; myogenetic oligodeoxynucleotide; nucleolin.