Notch3 drives development and progression of cholangiocarcinoma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Rachel V. Guest
  • Luke Boulter
  • Benjamin Dwyer
  • Tim J. Kendall
  • Tak Yung Man
  • Sarah E. Minnis-Lyons
  • Andrew J. Robson
  • Sofia Ferreira-Gonzalez
  • Alexander Raven
  • D. Wojtacha
  • J. P. Morton
  • Mina Komuta
  • T. Roskams
  • Stephen Wigmore
  • Owen J. Sansom
  • Stuart J. Forbes

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Edinburgh
  • Beatson Institute for Cancer Research
  • KU Leuven


The prognosis of cholangiocarcinoma (CC) is dismal. Notch has been identified as a potential driver; forced exogenous overexpression of Notch1 in hepatocytes results in the formation of biliary tumors. In human disease, however, it is unknown which components of the endogenously signaling pathway are required for tumorigenesis, how these orchestrate cancer, and how they can be targeted for therapy. Here we characterize Notch in human-resected CC, a toxin-driven model in rats, and a transgenic mouse model in which p53 deletion is targeted to biliary epithelia and CC induced using the hepatocarcinogen thioacetamide. We find that across species, the atypical receptor NOTCH3 is differentially overexpressed; it is progressively up-regulated with disease development and promotes tumor cell survival via activation of PI3k-Akt. We use genetic KO studies to show that tumor growth significantly attenuates after Notch3 deletion and demonstrate signaling occurs via a noncanonical pathway independent of the mediator of classical Notch, Recombinant Signal Binding Protein for Immunoglobulin Kappa J Region (RBPJ). These data present an opportunity in this aggressive cancer to selectively target Notch, bypassing toxicities known to be RBPJ dependent.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12250-12255
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number43
Early online date10 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2016


  • Cholangiocarcinoma, Notch, Noncanonical, Bile duct, Cancer