Downregulation of Nodal inhibits metastatic progression in retinoblastoma

Laura Asnaghi, David T. White, Lynn Yoon, Antoinette Price, Grace Y. Lee, Arpan Sahoo, Jeff S. Mumm, Charles G. Eberhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Retinoblastoma is the most common intraocular malignancy in children. We previously found that the ACVR1C/SMAD2 pathway is significantly upregulated in invasive retinoblastoma samples from patients. Here we studied the role of an ACVR1C ligand, Nodal, in regulating growth and metastatic dissemination in retinoblastoma. Inhibition of Nodal using multiple short hairpin (shRNAs) in WERI Rb1 and Y79 retinoblastoma cell cultures reduced growth by more than 90%, as determined by CCK-8 growth assay. Proliferation was also significantly inhibited, as found by Ki67 assay. These effects were paralleled by inhibition in the phosphorylation of the downstream effector SMAD2, as well as induction of apoptosis, as we observed more than three-fold increase in the percentage of cells positive for cleaved-caspase-3 or expressing cleaved-PARP1. Importantly, we found that downregulation of Nodal potently suppressed invasion in vitro, by 50 to 80%, as determined by transwell invasion assay (p = 0.02). Using an orthotopic model of retinoblastoma in zebrafish, we found 34% reduction in the ability of the cells to disseminate outside the eye, when Nodal was knocked down by shRNA (p = 0.0003). These data suggest that Nodal plays an important role in promoting growth, proliferation and invasion in retinoblastoma, and can be considered a new therapeutic target for both primary tumor growth and metastatic progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137
Number of pages1
JournalActa Neuropathologica Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 26 2019


  • Invasion
  • Nodal
  • Proliferation
  • Retinoblastoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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