Document Type


Date of Original Version



Cell & Molecular Biology


Ponatinib is a multi-target protein tyrosine kinase inhibitor, and its effects on hepatocellular carcinoma cells have not been previously explored. In the present study, we investigated its effects on hepatocellular carcinoma cell growth and the underlying mechanisms. Toward SK-Hep-1 and SNU-423 cells, ponatinib induces apoptosis by upregulation of cleaved caspase-3 and -7 and promotes cell cycle arrest in the G1 phase by inhibiting CDK4/6/CyclinD1 complex and phosphorylation of retinoblastoma protein. It inhibits the growth-stimulating mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathway, the phosphorylation of Src on both negative and positive regulation sites, and Jak2 and Stat3 phosphorylation. Surprisingly, it also activates the PDK1, the protein kinase B (Akt), and the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway. Blocking mTOR signaling strongly sensitizes cells to inhibition by ponatinib and makes ponatinib a much more potent inhibitor of hepatocellular carcinoma cell proliferation. These findings demonstrate that ponatinib exerts both positive and negative effects on hepatocellular cell proliferation, and eliminating its growth-stimulating effects by drug combination or potentially by chemical medication can significantly improve its efficacy as an anti-cancer drug.

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