Regorafenib (Stivarga) pharmacologically targets epithelialmesenchymal transition in colorectal cancer

Li Ching Fan, Hao Wei Teng, Chung Wai Shiau, Wei Tien Tai, Man Hsin Hung, Shung Haur Yang, Jeng Kai Jiang, Kuen Feng Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is well-known to evoke cancer invasion/metastasis, leading to a high frequency of mortality in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTPase)-targeted therapy has been identified as a novel cancer therapeutic. Previously, we proved that sorafenib with anti-EMT potency prevents TGF-β1-induced EMT/invasion by directly activating SH2-domain-containing phosphatase 1 (SHP-1)-dependent p-STAT3Tyr705 suppression in hepatocellular carcinoma. Regorafenib has a closely related chemical structure as sorafenib and is approved for the pharmacotherapy of mCRC. Herein, we evaluate whether regorafenib activates PTPase SHP-1 in the same way as sorafenib to abolish EMT-related invasion/metastasis in CRC. Notably, regorafenib exerted potent anti-EMT activity to curb TGF-β1-induced EMT/invasion in vitro as well inhibited lung metastatic outgrowth of SW480 mesenchymal cells in vivo. Mechanistically, regorafenib-enhanced SHP-1 activity significantly impeded TGF-β1-induced EMT/invasion via low p-STAT3Tyr705 level as proved by a SHP-1 inhibitor or siRNA-mediated SHP-1 depletion. Conversely, overexpression of SHP-1 further enhanced the inhibitory effects of regorafenib on TGF-β1-induced p-STAT3Tyr705 and EMT/invasion. Regorafenib directly activates SHP-1 by potently relieving the autoinhibited N-SH2 domain of SHP-1 to inhibit TGF-β1-induced p-STAT3Tyr705 and EMT/invasion. Importantly, the clinical evidence indicated that SHP-1 was positively correlated with E-cadherin and that significantly determined the overall survival of CRC patients. This result further confirms our in vitro data that SHP-1 is a negative regulatory PTPase in EMT regulation and serves as a pharmacological target for mCRC therapy. Collectively, activating PTPase SHP-1 by regorafenib focusing on its anti-EMT activity might be a useful pharmacotherapy for mCRC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64136-64147
Number of pages12
Issue number39
StatePublished - 2016


  • CRC
  • EMT
  • Regorafenib
  • SHP-1
  • STAT3


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