CDK5-mediated phosphorylation and stabilization of TPX2 promotes hepatocellular tumorigenesis

Fuqiang Wang, Wenxing Zhao, Yuehong Gao, Jiechao Zhou, Huifang Li, Guanyun Zhang, Dong Guo, Chengrong Xie, Jie Li, Zhenyu Yin, Jie Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: CDK5, an atypical member of the CDK family, play a significant role in the tumorigenesis of multiple organ, but CDK5 and its substrates in genesis and development of HCC is still unclear. Methods: Expression of CDK5 in HCC tumor and paired adjacent noncancerous tissues from 90 patients were measured by Western blotting, immunohistochemistry, and real-time PCR. The role of CDK5 in cell function and tumorigenesis was explored in HCC cell lines, ex vivo xenografts and diethylnitrosamine induced HCC model. Furthermore, comparative phosphoproteomic screening identified the oncoprotein TPX2 as a new substrate of CDK5. We also identified the effect of CDK5/P25 interaction blocker tamoxifen on HCC cell growth and migration. Results: CDK5 was increased in HCC tisues and the level of CDK5 was correlated with the severity of HCC based on patient recurrence and 5-year fatality rate. Exogenously expressed CDK5 but not kinase-dead CDK5 promoted proliferation, migration, and invasion of HCC cells. Functional ablation of CDK5 significantly inhibited the exacerbation of HCC cells. Xenograft implantation of HCC cells overexpressing CDK5 promoted tumorigenesis, and genetic knockdown of CDK5 reduced HCC growth and metastasis in vivo. More importantly, heterozygous knockout CDK5 (Cdk5+/-) attenuated HCC tumorigenesis induced by diethylnitrosamine. CDK5-mediated phosphorylation of TPX2 at serine 486 promoted its protein stability. TPX2 silence could restore HCC cell migration capability with overexpression CDK5. Treatment with tamoxifen inhibited cell growth and migration of HCC, demonstrating the role of active CDK5 in HCC. Conclusions: Our results suggest activation of CDK5 is associated with HCC tumorigenesis. CDK5-mediated phosphorylation and stabilization of TPX2 promotes hepatocellular proliferation and tumorigenicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number286
JournalJournal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 4 2019


  • Cyclin-dependent kinase 5
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Tamoxifen
  • Target protein for Xklp2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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