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Cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (CDK9) is a novel prognostic marker and therapeutic target in osteosarcoma.



Cyclin-dependent protein kinase 9 (CDK9) has been shown to play an important role in the pathogenesis of malignant tumors. However, the expression and function of CDK9 remain unknown in osteosarcomas. The purpose of this study is to assess the expression, function and clinical prognostic relationship of CDK9 in osteosarcomas.


A tissue microarray of 70 patient specimens was analyzed by immunohistochemistry to measure CDK9 expression, which was further investigated for correlation with patient clinical characteristics. CDK9 expression in osteosarcoma cell lines and patient tissues was also evaluated by Western blotting. CDK9-specific siRNA and the CDK9 inhibitor were applied to determine the effect of CDK9 inhibition on osteosarcoma cell proliferation and anti-apoptotic activity. The clonogenicity and migration activity were also examined using clonogenic and wound healing assays. A 3D cell culture model was performed to mimic the in vivo osteosarcoma environment to further validate the effect of CDK9 inhibition on osteosarcoma cells.


We demonstrated that higher CDK9-expression is associated with significantly shortened patient survival by immunohistochemistry. Expression of CDK9 is inversely correlated to the percent of tumor necrosis post-neoadjuvant chemotherapy, which is the most important predictive factor of disease outcome for osteosarcoma patients. Knockdown of CDK9 with siRNA and inhibition of CDK9 activity with inhibitor decreased cell proliferation and induced apoptosis in osteosarcoma.


High expression of CDK9 is an independent predictor of poor prognosis in osteosarcoma patients. Our results suggest that CDK9 is a novel prognostic marker and a promising therapeutic target for osteosarcomas.

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