Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Sep 3;21(17):E6410. doi: 10.3390/ijms21176410.
Several signaling pathways are aberrantly activated in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), including the Hedgehog-Gli (HH-GLI), WNT, EGFR, and NOTCH pathways. The HH-GLI pathway has mostly been investigated in the context of canonical signal transduction and the inhibition of the membrane components of the pathway. In this work we investigated the role of downstream inhibitors GANT61 and lithium chloride (LiCl) on cell viability, wound closure, and colony forming ability of HNSCC cell
lines. Five HNSCC cell lines were treated with HH-GLI pathway inhibitors affecting different levels of signal transduction. GANT61 and LiCl reduce the proliferation and colony formation capabilities of HNSCC cell lines, and LiCl has an additional effect on wound closure. The major effector of the HH-GLI signaling pathway in HNSCC is the GLI3 protein, which is expressed in its full-length form and is functionally regulated by GSK3β. LiCl treatment increases the inhibitory Ser9 phosphorylation of the GSK3β protein, leading to increased processing of GLI3 from full-length to repressor form, thus inhibiting HH-GLI pathway activity. Therefore, downstream inhibition of HH-GLI signaling may be a promising therapeutic strategy for HNSCC.