Genetic and pharmacological inhibition of TTK impairs pancreatic cancer cell line growth by inducing lethal chromosomal instability

Jeran K. Stratford, Feng Yan, Rebecca A. Hill, Michael B. Major, Lee M. Graves, Channing J. Der, Jen Jen Yeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, which accounts for the majority of pancreatic cancers, is a lethal disease with few therapeutic options. Genomic profiling of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma has identified a complex and heterogeneous landscape. Understanding the molecular characteristics of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma will facilitate the identification of potential therapeutic strategies. We analyzed the gene expression profiles of primary tumors from patients compared to normal pancreas and identified high co-overexpression of core components of the spindle assembly checkpoint, including the protein kinase TTK (also known as MPS-1). We found overexpression of TTK protein in a subset of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma primary tumors and cell lines. siRNA-mediated depletion or catalytic inhibition of TTK resulted in an aberrant cell cycle profile, multi- and micro-nucleation, induction of apoptosis, and decreased cell proliferation and transformed growth. Selective catalytic inhibition of TTK caused override of the spindle assembly checkpoint-induced cell cycle arrest. Interestingly, we identified ubiquitin specific peptidase 16 (Usp16), an ubiquitin hydrolase, as a phosphorylation substrate of TTK. Usp16 regulates chromosomal condensation and G2/M progression by deubiquitinating histone H2A and polo-like kinase 1. Phosphomimetic mutants of Usp16 show enhanced proteosomal degradation and may prolong the G2/M transition allowing for correction of replication errors. Taken together, our results suggest a critical role for TTK in preventing aneuploidyinduced cell death in pancreatic cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0174863
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2017


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