Kdm6a and Kdm6b: Altered expression in malignant pleural mesothelioma

International Journal of Oncology 2017 February 9 [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Cregan S, Breslin M, Roche G, Wennstedt S, MacDonagh L, Albadri C, Gao Y, O’Byrne KJ, Cuffe S, Finn SP, Gray SG


Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare aggressive cancer of the pleura primarily associated with prior exposure to asbestos. The current standard of care for patients suffering from MPM is a combination of cisplatin and pemetrexed (or alternatively cisplatin and raltitrexed). Most patients, however, die within 24 months of diagnosis. New therapies are therefore urgently required for this disease. Inflammation is thought to be a key element in the pathogenesis of MPM, and recently Kdm6 family members (Kdm6a and Kdm6b) have been identified as playing important roles in inflammatory processes. As such these genes could potentially represent novel candidate targets for intervention in MPM. Using RT-PCR we examined the expression of Kdm6aA and Kdm6b in a panel of MPM cell lines and in a cohort of snap-frozen patient samples isolated at surgery comprising benign, epithelial, biphasic and sarcomatoid histologies. Both Kdm6a and Kdm6b were found to be significantly overexpressed in MPM at the mRNA level. However, tests examining if targeting therapeutically Kdm6a/b using a specific small molecule inhibitor (GSK-J4) was potentially useful for treating MPM, revealed that anti-proliferative activity was higher at lower drug concentrations in cell lines derived from normal mesothelial cells compared to those derived from malignant cells. Treatments with GSK-J4 were found to be associated with the induction of apoptosis and increased expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines. As such our results demonstrate that whilst members of the Kdm6 family are overexpressed in MPM they may not be suitable candidates for therapy and may elicit a cytokine storm.