A murine mesenchymal stem cell model for initiating events in osteosarcomagenesis points to CDK4/CDK6 inhibition as a therapeutic target.


Osteosarcoma is a high-grade bone-forming neoplasm, with a complex genome. Tumours frequently show chromothripsis, many deletions, translocations and copy number alterations. Alterations in the p53 or Rb pathway are the most common genetic alterations identified in osteosarcoma. Using spontaneously transformed murine mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) which formed sarcoma after subcutaneous injection into mice, it was previously demonstrated that p53 is most often involved in the transformation towards sarcomas with complex genomics, including osteosarcoma. In the current study, not only loss of p53 but also loss of p16Ink4a is shown to be a driver of osteosarcomagenesis: murine MSCs with deficient p15Ink4b, p16Ink4a, or p19Arf transform earlier compared to wild-type murine MSCs. Furthermore, in a panel of nine spontaneously transformed murine MSCs, alterations in p15Ink4b, p16Ink4a, or p19Arf were observed in eight out of nine cases. Alterations in the Rb/p16 pathway could indicate that osteosarcoma cells are vulnerable to CDK4/CDK6 inhibitor treatment. Indeed, using two-dimensional (n = 7) and three-dimensional (n = 3) cultures of human osteosarcoma cell lines, it was shown that osteosarcoma cells with defective p16INK4A are sensitive to the CDK4/CDK6 inhibitor palbociclib after 72-hour treatment. A tissue microarray analysis of 109 primary tumour biopsies revealed a subset of patients (20-23%) with intact Rb, but defective p16 or overexpression of CDK4 and/or CDK6. These patients might benefit from CDK4/CDK6 inhibition, therefore our results are promising and might be translated to the clinic.

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Laboratory investigation; a journal of technical methods and pathology
  • Publication date 17-12-2021

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