HLJ1 is a novel tumour suppressor and is a potential druggable target for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In this report, using a promoter-containing enhancer region as the HLJ1-targeting drug-screening platform, we identified several herbal compounds from a Chinese herbal bank with the capacity to enhance HLJ1 promoter activity and suppress tumour growth and invasion of NSCLC. Among the herbal drugs identified, the andrographolide (from Andrographis paniculata [Burm. f.] Nees.) most significantly induced HLJ1 expression and suppressed tumorigenesis both in vitro and in vivo. The andrographolide upregulates HLJ1 via JunB activation, which modulates AP-2α binding at the MMP-2 promoter and represses the expression of MMP-2. In addition, silencing of HLJ1 partially reverses the inhibition of cancer-cell invasion by andrographolide. Microarray transcriptomic analysis was performed to comprehensively depict the andrographolide-regulated signalling pathways. We showed that andrographolide can affect 939 genes (analysis of variance, false discovery rate < 0.05) that are dominantly involved in the cell cycle, apoptosis and adhesion-related biological signalling, including mitogen-activated protein kinase, focal adhesion and tight junction pathways, indicating the diverse effects of andrographolide on anticancer invasion and proliferation. In conclusion, the HLJ1-targeting drug-screening platform is useful for screening of novel anticancer compounds. Using this platform, we identified andrographolide is a promising new anticancer agent that could suppress tumour growth and invasion in NSCLC
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