A promoter-driven assay for INSM1-associated signaling pathway in neuroblastoma

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Cellular Signalling


Aggressive form of neuroblastoma (NB) is a malignant childhood cancer derived from granule neuron precursors and sympatho-adrenal lineage with N-MYC amplification. An insulinoma associated-1 (INSM1) transcription factor has emerged as a NB biomarker that plays critical role in facilitating tumor cell growth and transformation. N-myc activates INSM1 in NB was discovered. In order to elucidate the signaling pathways associated with INSM1 expression and NB tumor cell growth, we developed an INSM1 promoter-driven luciferase assay for new drug discovery. Promoter-driven luciferase assay demonstrated high Z' factor (>0.7). Performance measures using signal-to-noise ratio, signal window, and Z' factor confirmed this assay is a robust screening method. A panel of FDA-approved oncology drugs set (147 compounds) was subjected to the INSM1 promoter-driven luciferase assay. The positive-hit compounds were validated for effects on cell viability and INSM1 expression. Screening a FDA-approved oncology drugs set revealed multiple inhibitors against various signaling pathways via suppression of INSM1 promoter activity. The positive-hit compounds consist of 9 signaling pathway inhibitors negatively regulates INSM1 expression and cell viability in NB. These inhibitors target DNA/RNA/protein synthesis, tubulin assembly, and histone deacetylase signaling pathways. The outcome of this assay indicates that the newly identified pathways could be critical for NB growth and transformation. This technology and the positive-hits of multiple pathways represent a promising option of identifying re-purposed FDA-approved drugs valuable for NB treatment in the context of a NB-specific marker, INSM1.

PubMed ID