A number of Smoothened (SMO) pathway antagonists are currently undergoing clinical trials as anticancer agents. These drugs are proposed to attenuate tumor growth solely through inhibition of Hedgehog (HH), which is produced in tumor cells but acts on tumor stromal cells. The pivotal argument underlying this model is that the growth-inhibitory properties of SMO antagonists on HH-producing cancer cells are due to their off-target effects. Here, we show that the tumorigenic properties of such lung cancer cells depend on their intrinsic level of HH activity. Notably, reducing HH signaling in these tumor cells decreases HH target gene expression. Taken together, these results question the dogma that autocrine HH signaling plays no role in HH-dependent cancers, and does so without using SMO antagonists.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research