Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is one of the most lethal genitourinary malignancies with poor prognoses, since it is largely resistant to chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and targeted therapy. The persistence of cancer stem cells (CSCs) is the major cause of treatment failure with RCC. Recent evidence showed that dopamine receptor D2 (DRD2)-targeting antipsychotic drugs such as penfluridol exert oncostatic effects on several cancer types, but the effect of penfluridol on RCC remains unknown. Here, we uncovered penfluridol suppressed in vitro cell growth and in vivo tumorigenicity of various RCC cell lines (Caki-1, 786-O, A498, and ACHN) and enhanced the Sutent (sunitinib)-triggered growth inhibition on clear cell (cc)RCC cell lines. Mechanistically, upregulation of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-induced unfolded protein response (UPR) was critical for autophagy-mediated apoptosis induced by penfluridol. Transcriptional inhibition of OCT4 and Nanog via inhibiting GLI1 was important for penfluridol-induced stemness and proliferation inhibition. The anticancer activities of penfluridol on ccRCC partially occurred through DRD2. In clinical ccRCC specimens, positive correlations of DRD2 with GLI1, OCT4, and Nanog were observed and their expressions were correlated with worse prognoses. Summarizing, DRD2 antagonists such as penfluridol induce UPR signaling and suppress the GLI1/OCT4/Nanog axis in ccRCC cells to reduce their growth through inducing autophagy-mediated apoptosis and stemness inhibition. These drugs can be repurposed as potential agents to treat ccRCC patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology
- Cancer Research