The matricellular protein CCN1 suppresses lung cancer cell growth by inducing senescence via the p53/p21 pathway


Correspondence to: Shr-Jeng Jim Leu, PhD, Department of Biotechnology and Laboratory Science in Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, 155 Section II, Lie-Nong Street, Taipei 112, Taiwan.



CCN1, a secreted matrix-associated molecule, is involved in multiple cellular processes. Previous studies have indicated that expression of CCN1 correlates inversely with the aggressiveness of non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC); however, the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. Using three NSCLC cell line systems, here we show that long-term treatment of cells with the recombinant CCN1 protein led to a permanent cell cycle arrest in G1 phase; cells remained viable as judged by apoptotic assays. CCN1-treated NSCLC cells acquired a phenotype characteristic of senescent cells, including an enlarged and flattened cell shape and expression of the senescence-associated β-galactosidase. Immunoblot analysis showed that addition of CCN1 increased the abundance of hypo-phosphorylated Rb, as well as accumulation of p53 and p21. Silencing the expression of p53 or p21 by lentivirus-mediated shRNA production in cells blocked the CCN1-induced senescence. Furthermore, a CCN1 mutant defective for binding integrin α6β1 and co-receptor heparan sulfate proteoglycans was incapable of senescence induction. Our finding that direct addition of CCN1 induces senescence in NSCLC cells provides a potential novel strategy for therapeutic intervention of lung cancers. J. Cell. Biochem. 114: 2082–2093, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.