Cyclin E1 in murine and human liver cancer: A promising target for therapeutic intervention during tumour progression

Roland Sonntag, Christian Penners, Marlene Kohlhepp, Ute Haas, Daniela Lambertz, Andreas Kroh, Thorsten Cramer, Fabio Ticconi, Ivan G. Costa, Frank Tacke, Nikolaus Gassler, Christian Trautwein, Christian Liedtke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Cyclin E1 (CCNE1) is a regulatory subunit of Cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2) and is thought to control the transition of quiescent cells into cell cycle progression. Recently, we identified CCNE1 and CDK2 as key factors for the initiation of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In the present study, we dissected the contributions of CCNE1 and CDK2 for HCC progression in mice and pa-tients. Therefore, we generated genetically modified mice allowing inducible deletion of Ccne1 or Cdk2. After initiation of HCC, using the hepatocarcinogen diethylnitrosamine (DEN), we deleted Ccne1 or Cdk2 and subsequently analysed HCC progression. The relevance of CCNE1 or CDK2 for human HCC progression was investigated by in silico database analysis. Interventional deletion of Ccne1, but not of Cdk2, substantially reduced the HCC burden in mice. Ccne1-deficient HCCs were characterised by attenuated proliferation, impaired DNA damage response and downregulation of markers for stemness and microinvasion. Additionally, the tumour microenvironment of Ccne1-deficient mice showed a reduction in immune mediators, myeloid cells and cancer-associated fibro-blasts. In sharp contrast, Cdk2 was dispensable for HCC progression in mice. In agreement with our mouse data, CCNE1 was overexpressed in HCC patients independent of risk factors, and associated with reduced disease-free survival, a common signature for enhanced chromosomal instability, pro-liferation, dedifferentiation and invasion. However, CDK2 lacked diagnostic or prognostic value in HCC patients. In summary, CCNE1 drives HCC progression in a CDK2-independent manner in mice and man. Therefore, interventional inactivation of CCNE1 represents a promising strategy the treatment of liver cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5680
Issue number22
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer stem cell
  • Cell cycle
  • DNA integrity
  • Microenvironment
  • Microinvasion


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