Arsenic trioxide disturbs the LIS1/NDEL1/dynein microtubule dynamic complex by disrupting the CLIP170 zinc finger in head and neck cancer

Head and Neck Cancer

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2020 Jul 24:115158. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2020.115158. Online ahead of print.


Cancer mortality is mainly caused by metastasis, which requires dynamic remodeling of cytoskeletal components such as microtubules. Targeting microtubules presents a promising antimetastatic strategy that could prevent cancer spreading and recurrence. It is known that arsenic trioxide (ATO) is able to inhibit the migration and invasion of solid malignant tumors, but its exact molecular mechanism remains unclear. Here, we report a novel molecular target and antimetastatic mechanism of ATO in head

and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). We found that cytoplasmic linker protein 170 (CLIP170) was overexpressed in HNSCC tissues and cells compared to normal controls. ATO at non-cytotoxic level (1 μM) inhibited the migration and invasion of HNSCC cells by displacing zinc in the zinc finger motif of CLIP170, which is a key protein that controls microtubule dynamics. The antimetastatic effects of ATO were equivalent to those of siRNA-mediated CLIP170 knockdown. Furthermore, ATO dysregulated microtubule polymerization via the CLIP170/LIS1/NDEL1/dynein signaling pathway in Cal27 cells as a functional consequence of CLIP170 zinc finger disruption. The effect was partially reversed by zinc supplementation. Taken together, these findings reveal that CLIP170 is a novel molecular target of ATO and demonstrate the capability and underlying mechanisms of ATO as a potential antimetastatic agent for HNSCC treatment.