Antitumor efficacy of the heparan sulfate mimic roneparstat (SST0001) against sarcoma models involves multi-target inhibition of receptor tyrosine kinases

Giuliana Cassinelli, Enrica Favini, Laura Dal Bo, Monica Livia Tortoreto, Marcella De Maglie, Gianpaolo Dagrada, Silvana Pilotti, Franco Zunino, Nadia Zaffaroni, Cinzia Lanzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The heparan sulfate (HS) mimic/heparanase inhibitor roneparstat (SST0001) shows antitumor activity in preclinical sarcoma models. We hypothesized that this 100% N-acetylated and glycol-split heparin could interfere with the functions of several receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) coexpressed in sarcomas and activated by heparin-binding growth factors. Using a phospho-proteomic approach, we investigated the drug effects on RTK activation in human cell lines representative of different sarcoma subtypes. Inhibition of FGF, IGF, ERBB and PDGF receptors by the drug was biochemically and functionally validated. Roneparstat counteracted the autocrine loop induced by the COL1A1/PDGFB fusion oncogene, expressed in a human dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans primary culture and in NIH3T3COL1A1/PDGFB transfectants, inhibiting cell anchorage-independent growth and invasion. In addition, roneparstat inhibited the activation of cell surface PDGFR and PDGFR-associated FAK, likely contributing to the reversion of NIH3T3COL1A1/PDGFB cell transformed and pro-invasive phenotype. Biochemical and histological/immunohistochemical ex vivo analyses confirmed a reduced activation of ERBB4, EGFR, INSR, IGF1R, associated with apoptosis induction and angiogenesis inhibition in a drug-treated Ewing's sarcoma family tumor xenograft. The combination of roneparstat with irinotecan significantly improved the antitumor effect against A204 rhabdoid xenografts resulting in a high rate of complete responses and cures. These findings reveal that roneparstat exerts a multi-target inhibition of RTKs relevant in the pathobiology of different sarcoma subtypes. These effects, likely cooperating with heparanase inhibition, contribute to the antitumor efficacy of the drug. The study supports heparanase/HS axis targeting as a valuable approach in combination therapies of different sarcoma subtypes providing a preclinical rationale for clinical investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47848-47863
Number of pages16
Issue number30
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Heparan sulfate
  • Heparanase
  • Receptor tyrosine kinase
  • Roneparstat
  • Sarcoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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