Malignant human anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is pertinacious to conventional therapies. The present study investigated the anti-cancer activity of simvastatin and its underlying regulatory mechanism in cultured ATC cells. Simvastatin (0-20 µM) concentration-dependently reduced cell viability and relative colony formation. Depletions of mevalonate (MEV) and geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGpp) by simvastatin induced G1 arrest and increased apoptotic cell populations at the sub-G1 phase. Adding MEV and GGpp prevented the simvastatin-inhibited cell proliferation. Immunoblotting analysis illustrated that simvastatin diminished the activation of RhoA and Rac1 protein, and this effect was prevented by pre-treatment with MEV and GGpp. Simvastatin increased the levels of p21cip and p27kip proteins and reduced the levels of hyperphosphorylated-Rb, E2F1 and CCND1 proteins. Adding GGpp abolished the simvastatin-increased levels of p27kip protein, and the GGpp-caused effect was abolished by Skp2 inhibition. Introduction of Cyr61 siRNA into ATC cells prevented the epidermal growth factor (EGF)-enhanced cell migration. The EGF-induced increases of Cyr61 protein expression and cell migration were prevented by simvastatin. Taken together, these results suggest that simvastatin induced ATC proliferation inhibition through the deactivation of RhoA/Rac1 protein and overexpression of p21cip and p27kip, and migration inhibition through the abrogation of Cyr61 protein expression.
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