Background: Hepatitis virus is a major risk factor for liver cancer. The mitochondrial dysfunction IFN gamma-related pathways are activated after virus infection. Jak family-related protein is involved in the downstream of IFN gamma-related pathways. However, the effect of the IFNGR-JAK-STAT pathway acting as functional regulators of their related protein expression on virus infection and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains unclear. Interestingly, the role of the DNA repair gene (PARP1) in therapy resistant cancers also has not been studied and explored well. In this study, we hypothesized that momelotinib could suppress the progression of HCC by targeting Jak family related and PARP1 DNA repair protein. Based on this observation, we link the relevant targets of the JAK family and the potential applications of targeted therapy inhibitors. Methods: We analyzed possible synergism between momelotinib and sorafenib in hepatitis virus-associated liver cancer. Immunostaining, colony formation assay, cell invasion, migration, and tumorsphere-formation assay were used for drug cytotoxicity, cell viability, and possible molecular mechanism. Result: We first demonstrated that the expression of Jak1 and 2 is significantly upregulated in vHCC than in nvHCC/normal liver tissues. In addition, the gene expression of IFN gamma-related pathways is activated after virus infection. Additionally, we found that momelotinib significantly inhibited the growth of HCC cells and reduces the expression of Jak2, which showed the importance of momelotinib in targeting Jak2 and reducing tumorigenesis in HCC. Meanwhile, momelotinib effectively inhibited the IFNGR-JAK-STAT pathway and reduced the migratory/invasive ability of vHCC cells through down-regulating EMT biomarkers (E-cadherin and vimentin), transcription factor (Slug), and significantly inhibits the DNA damage repair enzyme PARP1. It also induced cell apoptosis of vHCC cells. Furthermore, the combined effect of momelotinib and sorafenib both at in vitro and in vivo synergistically suppresses the proliferation of vHCC cells and effectively reduces the tumor burden. Conclusions: Our results showed that momelotinib effectively suppressed the expression of the IFNGR-JAK-STAT-PARP1 pathway, which results in the downregulation of cancer stem cell genes and enhances the antitumor efficacy of sorafenib by initiating the expression of apoptosis-related genes and inhibiting the DNA repair gene in vHCC cells, thus maximizing its therapeutic potential for patients with HCC.
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