Expression of PDK1 in malignant pheochromocytoma as a new promising potential therapeutic target

  • X. Zhang
  • Z. YuEmail author
Research Article



Phosphoinositide-dependent kinase 1 (PDK1) is highly expressed in many solid tumors. And several studies have demonstrated that PDK1 has been an emerging and promising target for anti-cancer therapies. However, the role of PDK1 has not been studied so far in malignant pheochromocytoma (PCC).


In this study, immunohistochemical staining was performed to investigate the protein level of PDK1 in 63 PCC tissue samples, of which 49 were benign and 14 were malignant. In addition, we evaluated the effect of inhibition of PDK1 with siRNA on cell growth, apoptosis and invasive capacity in PC12 cells and identified the underlying mechanisms.


We found that PDK1 was overexpressed in malignant PCC tissues, and knockdown of PDK1 with siRNA significantly inhibited cell proliferation, increased apoptosis induction, and attenuated cell migration and invasive capacity in PC12 cells. We also showed that knockdown of PDK1 significantly reduced the phosphorylation of Akt at threonine 308 (p-Akt T308) but did not alter the serine phosphorylation of Akt on the S473 site (p-Akt S473). Furthermore, we found that the p-Akt expression was noticeably decreased after knockdown of PDK1, but the t-Akt expression did not show a significant decrease.


We have demonstrated for the first time that PDK1 is overexpressed in human malignant PCC and plays an important role in the malignant biological behaviors of PC12 cell. Specifically, we have revealed that knockdown of PDK1 could attenuate activation of the Akt signaling. These data suggest that PDK1 could be a new promising potential therapeutic target in human cancer treatment for malignant PCC.


Phosphoinositide-dependent kinase 1 PDK1 Adrenal gland Malignant pheochromocytoma Target 



This work was supported by Huashan Hospital Affiliated to Fudan University.

Authors’ contributions

ZY conceived and designed the experiments. XZ performed the experiments. ZY coordinated the research and analyzed the data. XZ wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81502315).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

This study was in accordance with the ethical standards and was approved by The First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University.

Ethical statement

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets generated and/or analysed during this study are available from the first author and corresponding author on reasonable request.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.


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Copyright information

© Federación de Sociedades Españolas de Oncología (FESEO) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of UrologyHuashan Hospital Affiliated to Fudan UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of UrologyThe First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical UniversityWenzhouChina

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