Aspartate‐β‐hydroxylase: A promising target to limit the local invasiveness of colorectal cancer

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Colorectal cancer’s (CRC) ability to invade local tissues and lymph nodes and generate distant metastases is the key for TNM classification. Aspartate‐β‐hydroxylase (ASPH), a transmembrane protein that catalyzes Notch receptors and ligand activation, is involved in tumor invasion. Because Notch is involved in gut homeostasis, it could be a target for CRC therapy. ASPH mRNA and protein expression, promoter methylation and gene copy numbers were evaluated using the TCGA and CPTAC human CRC datasets. Using digital pathology, ASPH was scored in the luminal area (LM), center tumor (CT) and invasive margin (IM) of 100 human CRCs. The effect of ASPH targeting on invasiveness and viability was tested by siRNA knockdown and small molecule inhibitors (SMI). Bioinformatics analysis showed increased expression of ASPH mRNA and protein in CRC, paired with a decreased methylation profile. ASPH genetic gain or amplification was frequent (56%), while deletion was rare (0.03%). Digital pathology analysis showed that ASPH exerted its pathological activity in the invasive margin of the tumor, affecting invasive front morphology, tumor budding and patients’ overall survival. In vitro, ASPH targeting by siRNA or SMI reduced cell invasion and growth and caused Notch‐1 downregulation. This study demonstrates that ASPH targeting by specific inhibitors could improve CRC treatment strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number971
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • ASPH
  • Cell invasion
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Tumor budding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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