RNA interference as a key to knockdown overexpressed cyclooxygenase-2 gene in tumour cells

A. Strillacci, C. Griffoni, E. Spisni, M. C. Manara, V. Tomasi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Silencing those genes that are overexpressed in cancer and contribute to the survival and progression of tumour cells is the aim of several researches. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is one of the most intensively studied genes since it is overexpressed in most tumours, mainly in colon cancer. The use of specific COX-2 inhibitors to treat colon cancer has generated great enthusiasm. Yet, the side effects of some inhibitors emerging during long-term treatment have caused much concern. Genes silencing by RNA interference (RNAi) has led to new directions in the field of experimental oncology. In this study, we detected sequences directed against COX-2 mRNA, that potently downregulate COX-2 gene expression and inhibit phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate-induced angiogenesis in vitro in a specific, nontoxic manner. Moreover, we found that the insertion of a specific cassette carrying anti-COX-2 short hairpin RNA sequence into a viral vector (pSUPER.retro) greatly increased silencing potency in a colon cancer cell line (HT29) without activating any interferon response. Phenotypically, COX-2 deficient HT29 cells showed a significant impairment of their in vitro malignant behaviour. Thus, the retroviral approach enhancing COX-2 knockdown, mediated by RNAi, proved to be an useful tool to better understand the role of COX-2 in colon cancer. Furthermore, the higher infection efficiency we observed in tumour cells, if compared to normal endothelial cells, may disclose the possibility to specifically treat tumour cells without impairing endothelial COX-2 activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1300-1310
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 8 2006


  • Angiogenesis
  • Colon cancer
  • COX-2
  • RNA interference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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