Aberrantly expressed Bruton’s tyrosine kinase preferentially drives metastatic and stem cell-like phenotypes in neuroblastoma cells

Narpati Wesa Pikatan, Yen Lin Liu, Oluwaseun Adebayo Bamodu, Michael Hsiao, Wen Ming Hsu, Sofia Mubarika Haryana, Sutaryo, Tsu Yi Chao, Chi Tai Yeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Neuroblastoma, a common childhood tumor, remains one of the most elusive diseases to treat. To date, high-risk neuroblastoma is associated with low survival rates. To address this, novel and more effective therapeutic strategies must continue to be explored. Methods: We employed a bioinformatics approach corroborated with in vitro and in vivo data. Samples from neuroblastoma patients were retrieved and immuno-stained for Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK). To evaluate its effect on cellular functions, BTK expression in SK-N-BE(2) and SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells was downregulated using gene silencing or inhibition with ibrutinib or acalabrutinib. Xenograft mouse models were used to investigate the in vivo role of BTK in neuroblastoma tumorigenesis. Results: We found that BTK was highly expressed in primary neuroblastoma samples, preferentially in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cases, and was associated with a poor prognosis. Immunohistochemical staining of tissues from our neuroblastoma cohort revealed a strong BTK immunoreactivity. We also found that neuroblastoma SK-N-BE(2) and SH-SY5Y cells were sensitive to treatment with ibrutinib and acalabrutinib. Pharmacologic or molecular inhibition of BTK elicited a reduction in the migratory and invasive abilities of neuroblastoma cells, and ibrutinib considerably attenuated the neurosphere-forming ability of neuroblastoma cells. Both inhibitors showed synergism with cisplatin. In vivo assays showed that acalabrutinib effectively inhibited neuroblastoma tumorigenesis. Conclusions: From our data we conclude that BTK is a therapeutically targetable driver of neuroblastoma. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1067-1084
Number of pages18
JournalCellular Oncology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Acalabrutinib
  • Bruton’s tyrosine kinase
  • Cancer stem cells
  • Ibrutinib
  • Metastasis
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Pediatric brain tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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