Inhibition of CDK9 exhibits anticancer activity in hepatocellular carcinoma cells via targeting ribonucleotide reductase

Jiunn Chang Lin, Tsang Pai Liu, Yan Bin Chen, Tun Sung Huang, Tung Ying Chen, Pei Ming Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (CDK9) inhibitors are a novel category of anticancer treatment for cancers. However, their effects on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are rarely investigated. Human ribonucleotide reductase (RR, which consists of RRM1 and RRM2 subunits) catalyzes the conversion of ribonucleoside diphosphate into 2′-deoxyribonucleoside diphosphate to maintain the homeostasis of nucleotide pools, which play essential roles in DNA synthesis and DNA repair. In this study, we identified that CDK9 protein expression in adjacent non-tumor tissues predicted HCC patients' overall and progression-free survivals. The anticancer activity of a CDK9-selective inhibitor, LDC000067, on HCC cells was positively associated with its ability to inhibit the expression of RRM1 and RRM2. LDC000067 downregulated RRM1 and RRM2 expression through post-transcriptional pathway. Specifically, LDC000067 triggered RRM2 protein degradation via multiple pathways, including proteasome-, lysosome-, and calcium-dependent pathways. Furthermore, CDK9 positively correlates with RRM1 or RRM2 expression in HCC patients, and the expressions of these three genes were associated with the higher infiltration of immune cells in HCC. Taken together, this study identified the prognostic relevance of CDK9 in HCC and the molecular mechanism for the anticancer effect of CDK9 inhibitors on HCC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116568
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - Jul 15 2023


  • Cyclin-dependent kinase 9
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Protein degradation
  • Ribonucleotide reductase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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