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Cucurbitacin E inhibits the Yes‑associated protein signaling pathway and suppresses brain metastasis of human non‑small cell lung cancer in a murine model.


Human non‑small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is associated with an extremely poor prognosis especially for the 40% of patients who develop brain metastasis, and few treatment strategies exist. Cucurbitacin E (CuE), an oxygenated tetracyclic triterpenoid isolated from plants particularly of the family Cucurbitaceae, has shown anti‑tumorigenic properties in several types of cancer, yet the mechanism remains unclear. Yes‑associated protein (YAP), a main mediator of the Hippo signaling pathway, promotes tumorigenesis, drug resistance and metastasis in human NSCLC. The present study was designed to ascertain whether CuE inhibits YAP and its downstream gene expression in the human NSCLC cell lines H2030‑BrM3 (K‑rasG12C mutation) and PC9‑BrM3 (EGFRΔexon19 mutation), which have high potential for brain metastasis. The efficacy of CuE in suppressing brain metastasis of H2030‑BrM3 cells in a murine model was also investigated. It was found that after CuE treatment in H2030‑BrM3 and PC9‑BrM3 cells, YAP protein expression was decreased, and YAP signaling GTIIC reporter activity and expression of the downstream genes CTGF and CYR61 were significantly (P<0.01) decreased. CuE treatment also reduced the migration and invasion abilities of the H2030‑BrM3 and PC9‑BrM3 cells. Finally, our in vivo study showed that CuE treatment (0.2 mg/kg) suppressed H2030‑BrM3 cell brain metastasis and that mice treated with CuE survived longer than the control mice treated with 10% DMSO (P=0.02). The present study is the first to demonstrate that CuE treatment inhibits YAP and the signaling downstream gene expression in human NSCLC in vitro, and suppresses brain metastasis of NSCLC in a murine model. More studies to verify the promising efficacy of CuE in inhibiting brain metastasis of NSCLC and various other cancers may be warranted.

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