Repurposing niclosamide for targeting pancreatic cancer by inhibiting hh/gli non-canonical axis of gsk3β

Jyoti B. Kaushal, Rakesh Bhatia, Ranjana K. Kanchan, Pratima Raut, Surya Mallapragada, Quan P. Ly, Surinder K. Batra, Satyanarayana Rachagani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Niclosamide (Nic), an FDA-approved anthelmintic drug, is reported to have anti-cancer efficacy and is being assessed in clinical trials for various solid tumors. Based on its ability to target multiple signaling pathways, in the present study, we evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of Nic on pancreatic cancer (PC) in vitro. We observed an anti-cancerous effect of this drug as shown by the G0/G1 phase cell cycle arrest, inhibition of PC cell viability, colony formation, and migration. Our results revealed the involvement of mitochondrial stress and mTORC1-dependent autophagy as the predominant players of Nic-induced PC cell death. Significant reduction of Nic-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cell death in the presence of a selective autophagy inhibitor spautin-1 demonstrated autophagy as a major contributor to Nic-mediated cell death. Mechanistically, Nic inhibited the interaction between BCL2 and Beclin-1 that supported the crosstalk of autophagy and apoptosis. Further, Nic treatment resulted in Gsk3β inactivation by phosphorylating its Ser-9 resi-due leading to upregulation of Sufu and Gli3, thereby negatively impacting hedgehog signaling and cell survival. Nic induced autophagic cell death, and p-Gsk3b mediated Sufu/Gli3 cascade was further confirmed by Gsk3β activator, LY-294002, by rescuing inactivation of Hh signaling upon Nic treatment. These results suggested the involvement of a non-canonical mechanism of Hh signaling, where p-Gsk3β acts as a negative regulator of Hh/Gli1 cascade and a positive regulator of autoph-agy-mediated cell death. Overall, this study established the therapeutic efficacy of Nic for PC by targeting p-Gsk3β mediated non-canonical Hh signaling and promoting mTORC1-dependent au-tophagy and cell death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3105
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • Apoptosis
  • Autophagy
  • Gsk3β
  • Hh signaling
  • Niclosamide
  • Pancreatic cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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