Gene Summary

Gene:SOX2; SRY-box transcription factor 2
Aliases: ANOP3, MCOPS3
Summary:This intronless gene encodes a member of the SRY-related HMG-box (SOX) family of transcription factors involved in the regulation of embryonic development and in the determination of cell fate. The product of this gene is required for stem-cell maintenance in the central nervous system, and also regulates gene expression in the stomach. Mutations in this gene have been associated with optic nerve hypoplasia and with syndromic microphthalmia, a severe form of structural eye malformation. This gene lies within an intron of another gene called SOX2 overlapping transcript (SOX2OT). [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:transcription factor SOX-2
Source:NCBIAccessed: 01 September, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 01 September 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

Tag cloud generated 01 September, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (4)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: SOX2 (cancer-related)

Kim SL, Choi HS, Kim JH, et al.
Dihydrotanshinone-Induced NOX5 Activation Inhibits Breast Cancer Stem Cell through the ROS/Stat3 Signaling Pathway.
Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019; 2019:9296439 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are known to mediate metastasis and recurrence and are therefore a promising therapeutic target. In this study, we found that dihydrotanshinone (DHTS) inhibits CSC formation. DHTS inhibited mammosphere formation in a dose-dependent manner and showed significant tumor growth inhibition in a xenograft model. This compound reduced the CD44

Hu C, Li M, Guo T, et al.
Anti-metastasis activity of curcumin against breast cancer via the inhibition of stem cell-like properties and EMT.
Phytomedicine. 2019; 58:152740 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Curcumin is a polyphenolic compound with potent chemopreventive and anti-cancer efficacy.
PURPOSE: To explore the potential anti-metastasis efficacy of curcumin in breast cancer stem-like cells (BCSCs), which are increasingly considered to be the origin of the recurrence and metastasis of breast cancer.
METHODS: A CCK8 assay was performed to evaluate cell viability, and a colony formation assay was conducted to determine cell proliferation in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 adherent cells. Transwell and wound healing assays were used to detect the effect of curcumin on cell migration and invasion in MDA-MB-231 cells. Mammospheres were cultured with serum free medium (SFM) for three generations and the BCSC surface marker CD44
RESULTS: Curcumin exhibited anti-proliferative and colony formation inhibiting activities in both the MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cell lines. It also suppressed the migration and invasion of MDA-MB-231 cells. The CD44
CONCLUSION: The results of the present study suggest that the inhibitor effects of curcumin on breast cancer cells may be related to resistance to cancer stem-like characters and the EMT process. These data indicate that curcumin could function as a type of anti-metastasis agent for breast cancer.

Wang Y, Zhong Y, Hou T, et al.
PM2.5 induces EMT and promotes CSC properties by activating Notch pathway in vivo and vitro.
Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2019; 178:159-167 [PubMed] Related Publications
Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) has been closely linked to increased morbidity and mortality of lung cancer worldwide. However, the role of PM2.5 in the etiology of lung cancer and the mechanism involved in PM2.5 induced lung cancer are largely unknown. In this study, we performed chronic exposure animal model to investigate the carcinogenetic mechanisms of PM2.5 by targeting the induction of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cancer stem cells (CSC) properties through Notch1 signal pathway. The antagonism of Notch1 signal pathway was carried out in vitro cell lines of A549 and BEAS-2B to block EMT and CSC. We found that chronic PM2.5 exposure mice lung tissue pathology showed atypical hyperplasia of bronchiolar epithelium. Then, we discovered that chronic PM2.5 exposure induced notable EMT event and obvious CSC properties indicating the developing process of cell malignant behaviors. EMT characterized with decreased protein expression of E-cadherin and increased protein expression of Vimentin. CSC properties induced by chronic PM2.5 exposure characterized with increased cell-surface markers (ABCG2 and ALDH1A1) and self-renewal genes (SOX2 and OCT4). Furthermore, PM2.5 exposure activate Notch signal pathway by increasing expression of Notch1 and Hes1. At last, we blocked Notch signal pathway by inhibitor RO4929097 in vitro to explore the underlying mechanism mediating PM2.5 induced EMT and CSC. We found that blocking Notch1 could prevent PM2.5 induced malignant behaviors including EMT and CSC in A549 and BEAS-2B. These data revealed that the induction of EMT and CSC properties were involved in the lung cancer risk of PM2.5 in vivo, and blocking-up Notch1 may negatively regulate EMT and CSC to suppress the invasion and migration in vitro, thereby putatively serving as a novel therapeutic target for PM2.5 induced lung cancer.

Ji M, Liu L, Hou Y, Li B
1α,25‑Dihydroxyvitamin D3 restrains stem cell‑like properties of ovarian cancer cells by enhancing vitamin D receptor and suppressing CD44.
Oncol Rep. 2019; 41(6):3393-3403 [PubMed] Related Publications
Scientific evidence linking vitamin D with various cancer types is growing, but the effects of vitamin D on ovarian cancer stem cell‑like cells (CSCs) are largely unknown. The present study aimed to examine whether vitamin D was able to restrain the stemness of ovarian cancer. A side population (SP) from malignant ovarian surface epithelial cells was identified as CSCs, in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, 1α,25‑dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D3] treatment inhibited the self‑renewal capacity of SP cells by decreasing the sphere formation rate and by suppressing the mRNA expression levels of cluster of differentiation CD44, NANOG, OCT4, SOX2, Krüppel‑like factor 4 and adenosine triphosphate binding cassette subfamily G member 2. Additionally, 1α,25(OH)2D3 treatment decreased the expression of Cyclin D1, whereas it increased the expression of β‑catenin and vitamin D receptor (VDR). Notably, immunofluorescence staining verified that 1α,25(OH)2D3 promoted the expression of β‑catenin in the cytoplasm. Furthermore, vitamin D3 delayed the onset of tumor formation derived from injection of ovarian CSCs to nude mice, by reducing CD44 and enhancing β‑catenin expressions in vivo. In conclusion, 1α,25(OH)2D3 restrains the stem cell‑like properties of ovarian cancer cells by enhancing the expression of VDR, by promoting the expression of β‑catenin in the cytoplasm, and by suppressing the expression of CD44. These findings provide a novel insight into the functions of vitamin D in diminishing the stemness of cancer CSCs.

Teng Y, Kang H, Chu Y
Identification of an Exosomal Long Noncoding RNA SOX2-OT in Plasma as a Promising Biomarker for Lung Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
Genet Test Mol Biomarkers. 2019; 23(4):235-240 [PubMed] Related Publications
AIMS: Evaluation of nucleic acids in plasma exosomes is a noninvasive method that can be used to detect different types of cancer. The aim of this study was to determine the value of exosomal long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) in detecting lung squamous cell carcinoma (LSCC).
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 75 LSCC patients and 79 negative control subjects were enrolled in the study. Twenty differentially expressed lncRNAs were evaluated as potential candidates. Exosomes were isolated by ultracentrifugation, and lncRNA levels in exosomes were determined using real-time polymerase chain reaction. Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves were used to determine specificity and sensitivity.
RESULTS: Exosomal SOX2-OT was significantly upregulated in LSCC patients and showed the strongest power in detecting LSCC. The area under the ROC curve was 0.815, and the sensitivity and specificity were 76% and 73.17%, respectively. Moreover, exosomal SOX2-OT levels were significantly correlated with tumor size, TNM stage, and lymph node metastasis. Exosomal SOX2-OT levels were significantly decreased in the postoperative plasma of LSCC patients.
CONCLUSION: SOX2-OT may serve as a promising noninvasive plasma-based tumor biomarker for LSCC.

Luo W, Yan D, Song Z, et al.
miR-126-3p sensitizes glioblastoma cells to temozolomide by inactivating Wnt/β-catenin signaling via targeting SOX2.
Life Sci. 2019; 226:98-106 [PubMed] Related Publications
AIMS: The acquired drug resistance has been regarded as a main barrier for the effective treatment of temozolomide (TMZ) in glioblastoma (GBM). MiR-126-3p is commonly down-regulated and exerts tumor-suppressive roles in kinds of human cancers, including GBM. This study was designed to investigate the functions and mechanisms of miR-126-3p in regulating TMZ resistance in GBM.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: qRT-PCR analysis was used to measure the expressions of miR-126-3p and SOX2 mRNA in GBM tissues and cells. Cell viability, colony forming ability and apoptosis were detected to evaluate the effect of miR-126-3p or SOX2 on TMZ resistance. Luciferase reporter experiments were applied to identify the target genes of miR-126-3p. Western blot analysis was performed to determine the protein levels associated with Wnt/β-catenin signaling. TOP/FOP Flash assays were conducted to determine the effects of miR-126-3p or SOX2 on Wnt/β-catenin signaling.
KEY FINDINGS: miR-126-3p expression was decreased in TMZ-resistant GBM tissues and cells. High levels of miR-126-3p enhanced TMZ sensitivity by inhibiting cell viability, reducing colony forming potential and inducing apoptosis. Additionally, SOX2 was identified as a downstream target of miR-126-3p. On the contrary, SOX2 overexpression conferred TMZ resistance of GBM cells. Moreover, miR-126-3p-mediated TMZ sensitivity was reversed following increased expression of SOX2. Furthermore, miR-126-3p-induced inactivation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling was greatly abrogated by SOX2 up-regulation.
SIGNIFICANCE: MiR-126-3p sensitizes GBM cells to TMZ possibly by repressing SOX2 expression and blocking Wnt/β-catenin signaling. This study provides novel targets to overcome TMZ resistance in GBM chemotherapy.

Chaudhary S, Islam Z, Mishra V, et al.
Sox2: A Regulatory Factor in Tumorigenesis and Metastasis.
Curr Protein Pept Sci. 2019; 20(6):495-504 [PubMed] Related Publications
The transcription factor Sox2 plays an important role in various phases of embryonic development, including cell fate and differentiation. These key regulatory functions are facilitated by binding to specific DNA sequences in combination with partner proteins to exert their effects. Recently, overexpression and gene amplification of Sox2 has been associated with tumor aggression and metastasis in various cancer types, including breast, prostate, lung, ovarian and colon cancer. All the different roles for Sox2 involve complicated regulatory networks consisting of protein-protein and protein-nucleic acid interactions. Their involvement in the EMT modulation is possibly enabled by Wnt/ β-catenin and other signaling pathways. There are number of in vivo models which show Sox2 association with increased cancer aggressiveness, resistance to chemo-radiation therapy and decreased survival rate suggesting Sox2 as a therapeutic target. This review will focus on the different roles for Sox2 in metastasis and tumorigenesis. We will also review the mechanism of action underlying the cooperative Sox2- DNA/partner factors binding where Sox2 can be potentially explored for a therapeutic opportunity to treat cancers.

Sherman-Samis M, Onallah H, Holth A, et al.
SOX2 and SOX9 are markers of clinically aggressive disease in metastatic high-grade serous carcinoma.
Gynecol Oncol. 2019; 153(3):651-660 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to analyze the expression, biological role and clinical relevance of cancer stem cell markers in high-grade serous carcinoma (HGSC).
METHODS: mRNA expression by qRT-PCR of NANOG, OCT4, SOX2, SOX4, SOX9, LIN28A and LIN28B was analyzed in 134 HGSC specimens (84 effusions, 50 surgical specimens). Nanog, OCT3/4, SOX2 and SOX9 protein expression by immunohistochemistry was analyzed in 52 HGSC effusions. Nanog protein expression in exosomes from 80 HGSC effusions was studied by Western Blotting. OVCAR3 cells underwent CRISPR/Cas9 Nanog knockout (KO), and the effect of Nanog KO on migration, invasion, proliferation and proteolytic activity was analyzed in OVCAR3 and OVCAR8 cells.
RESULTS: OCT4 mRNA was overexpressed in effusions compared to solid specimens (p = 0.046), whereas SOX9 was overexpressed in the ovarian tumors compared to effusions and solid metastases (p = 0.003). Higher SOX2 and SOX9 expression was associated with primary (intrinsic) chemoresistance (p = 0.009 and p = 0.02, respectively). Higher SOX9 levels were associated with shorter overall survival in univariate (p = 0.04) and multivariate (p = 0.049) analysis. OCT3/4, SOX2 and SOX9 proteins were found in HGSC cells, whereas Nanog was detected only in exosomes. Higher SOX2 protein expression was associated with shorter overall survival in univariate analysis (p = 0.049). OVCAR cells exposed to OVCAR3 NANOG KO exosomes had reduced migration, invasion and MMP9 activity.
CONCLUSIONS: SOX2 and SOX9 mRNA levels in HGSC effusions may be markers of clinically aggressive disease. Nanog is secreted in HGSC exosomes in effusions and modulates tumor-promoting cellular processes in vitro.

Muraki Y, Hasegawa T, Takeda D, et al.
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-related Genes Correlate With Poor Prognoses of Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
Anticancer Res. 2019; 39(3):1205-1216 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: We recently investigated the contribution of the iPS-related genes SOX2, OCT4, and Nanog to de-differentiation by assaying for their mRNA levels. Given that mRNA expression does not always correlate with the protein levels, the aim of this study was to retrospectively determine the expression of these four iPS-related factors in human OSCC specimens by immunohistochemistry and examine their association with patient prognosis.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: iPS cell-related gene expression in 89 OSCC patients by tissue microarray, and its correlation with clinicopathological factors, differentiation, metastasis, and poor prognoses were investigated.
RESULTS: No evidence of statistically significant relationships was found between the expression of iPS cell-related genes and clinicopathological parameters. However, our data indicated that KLF4 expression was associated with survival, and poor tumor differentiation. In addition, high expression of KLF4 was an independent poor prognostic factor (p=0.004) for OSCC patients.
CONCLUSION: In preoperative biopsies, higher KLF4 and poor differentiation may be clinically effective predictors for the prognosis of oral cancer.

Tian W, Jiang C, Huang Z, et al.
Comprehensive analysis of dysregulated lncRNAs, miRNAs and mRNAs with associated ceRNA network in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
Gene. 2019; 696:206-218 [PubMed] Related Publications
Mounting evidence suggests that long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) play an important role in tumor biology. To date, some lncRNAs have been found to be involved in competitive binding of miRNAs, a major group of competitive endogenous RNAs (ceRNAs), through participation in a regulatory network of protein-coding gene expression. However, the functional roles of lncRNA-mediated ceRNAs in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) have rarely been reported. Here, we construct a hypothetical ceRNA network by analyzing differential expression of lncRNAs, miRNAs and mRNAs obtained from 96 ESCC tissues and 13 normal tissues in the Cancer Genome Atlas. Ultimately, 95 lncRNAs, 9 miRNAs, and 40 mRNAs were identified (fold change >1.5, P < .05) and included in the ceRNA network for ESCC. Moreover, three lncRNAs (IGF2-AS, MUC2 and SOX2-OT) were found to be significantly associated with overall survival (log-rank test, P < .05), and further experiments revealed that lncRNA DLX6-AS1 knockdown inhibited the proliferation and invasion of esophageal cancer cells by enhancing the endogenous function of mTOR. We believe that the identified ceRNA network can facilitate a better understanding of lncRNA-related mechanisms in ESCC.

Wang Y, Liang Z, Li H, et al.
NSPc1 polycomb protein complex binds and cross‑talks to lncRNAs in glioma H4 cells.
Oncol Rep. 2019; 41(4):2575-2584 [PubMed] Related Publications
Recently, emerging evidence shows that a number of long non‑coding RNAs (lncRNAs) recruit polycomb group (PcG) proteins to specific chromatin loci to silence relevant gene expression. In the present study, we provided evidence that lncRNA candidates, selected by bioinformatic analysis and nervous system polycomb 1 (NSPc1), a key polycomb repressive complex 1 (PRC1) member, were highly expressed in glioma H4 cells in contrast to that noted in non‑cancerous cells. RNA binding protein immunoprecipitation (RIP) assays demonstrated that metastasis associated lung adenocarcinoma transcript 1 (MALAT1), SOX2 overlapping transcript (SOX2OT) and maternally expressed 3 (MEG3) among the 8 candidates bound to the NSPc1 protein complex in glioma H4 cells. Furthermore, overexpression of NSPc1 caused a decrease in the expression of MALAT1 and MEG3 and increased expression of SOX2OT, while NSPc1 downregulation caused the levels of all three genes to increase. Meanwhile, suppression of the expression of MALAT1 increased the expression levels of mRNA and protein of NSPc1, whereas downregulation of the expression of SOX2OT decreased NSPc1 expression. Moreover, a significant decrease in cell growth and increased cell apoptosis were observed in the transfected H4 cells by MTT assay and flow cytometric analysis. The results showed that the reduced co‑expression between NSPc1 and MALAT1/SOX2OT decreased the proliferation and promoted the death of H4 cells more obviously than the respectively decrease in expression of NSPc1, MALAT1 and SOX2OT. Remarkably, the influence of a simultaneously decreased expression of NSPc1 and SOX2OT on promoting cell apoptosis was more obvious than the total effect of the separate downregulation of NSPc1 and SOX2OT on accelerating cell death. However, that impact was partially counteracted in the silencing of the co‑expression of MALAT1 and NSPc1. Furthermore, they cooperated to affect transcription of p21 and OCT4.Briefly, these data suggest NSPc1 polycomb protein complex binding and cross‑talk to lncRNAs in glioma H4 cells, offering new insight into the important function of polycomb protein complex and lncRNA interactions in glioma cells and provide a novel view of potential biomarkers and targets for the diagnosis and therapy of glioma.

Ren L, Deng B, Saloura V, et al.
MELK inhibition targets cancer stem cells through downregulation of SOX2 expression in head and neck cancer cells.
Oncol Rep. 2019; 41(4):2540-2548 [PubMed] Related Publications
Maternal embryonic leucine zipper kinase (MELK) has been reported to serve critical roles in the maintenance of stemness of cancer cells, although its mechanism remains unclear. Since SRY‑box 2 (SOX2) was demonstrated to be involved in self‑renewal and tumorigenicity of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and is aberrantly expressed in HNSCC tumors, the association between MELK and SOX2 was examined. Firstly, MELK inhibition was performed by small interfering RNA or MELK inhibitor OTS167, and it was determined that MELK inhibition by these approaches could decrease the SOX2 expression in HNSCC cells and OTS167 could suppress the SOX2 expression in a dose‑dependent manner. The present results indicated that MELK inhibition may target cancer stem cells (CSCs) through downregulation of the SOX2 gene. To further confirm the transcriptional regulation of SOX2, the transcription factors (TFs) were screened for SOX2 using a promoter‑binding TF assay followed by reverse transcription‑quantitative polymerase chain reaction and a decrease of the majority of the SOX2 TFs following MELK knockdown was observed. The present results provide evidence that MELK serves a key role in CSCs through the regulation of SOX2 and further indicates that MELK inhibition may also be promising for clinical applications in the treatment of HNSCC.

Wu CC, Xiao Y, Li H, et al.
Overexpression of FAM3C is associated with poor prognosis in oral squamous cell carcinoma.
Pathol Res Pract. 2019; 215(4):772-778 [PubMed] Related Publications
Expression of the family with sequence similarity 3 member C (FAM3C) is necessary for the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). However, the expression level and clinicopathological significance of FAM3C in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) has not been thoroughly elucidated to date. We performed immunohistochemical staining on human OSCC specimens with FAM3C, co-inhibitory immune checkpoints, EMT markers, and cancer stem cells (CSCs) markers to analyze the expression levels and clinicopathological features of FAM3C in OSCC. There were 210 primary OSCC specimens, 69 oral epithelial dysplasia and 42 normal oral mucosae in our human OSCC tissue microarrays cohort. We observed that FAM3C expression was upregulated in OSCC compared with normal mucosa and epithelial dysplasia (P <  0.001). Moreover, patients with higher FAM3C expression levels had a worse prognosis than those with lower expression levels (P < 0.05). Also, FAM3C expression was positively correlated with the immune checkpoints PD-L1, VISTA, and B7-H4, the EMT marker Slug and the CSC markers SOX2 and ALDH1. In conclusion, these findings suggested that overexpression of FAM3C in human OSCC may predict a poor prognosis for OSCC patients.

Zhai Y, Wei R, Sha S, et al.
Effect of NELL1 on lung cancer stem‑like cell differentiation.
Oncol Rep. 2019; 41(3):1817-1826 [PubMed] Related Publications
The cancer stem cell theory recently has received enormous attention in cancer biology. Lung cancer stem‑like cells are a subpopulation of undifferentiated lung tumor cells critical for lung cancer tumorigenesis, metastasis and resistance to therapy and disease relapse. The neural EGFL like 1 (NELL1) is a potent growth factor believed to preferentially target cells committed to the osteochondral lineage; yet, its expression and function in lung cancer are largely unknown. In the present study, we used specific medium to accumulate lung cancer stem‑like cells of 95‑D cells in spheres and obtained these highly expressed CD133 cells through flow cytometric cell sorting of CD133‑stained cells which were termed 95‑D lung cancer stem‑like cells (95‑D LCSCs). These 95‑D LCSCs highly expressed stemness genes CD133, Oct4 and Sox2 determined by western blot analysis and quantitative real‑time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) analysis. Notably, we found that overexpression of NELL1 significantly reduced colony formation and invasion of 95‑D LCSCs tested by soft agar colony formation and cell invasion assay. In addition, as determined by cell proliferation assay, overexpression of NELL1 increased the chemotherapeutic sensitivity of 95‑D LCSCs to carboplatin and cisplatin. NELL1 also reduced the expression of phospho‑MET (p‑MET), Notch3 and HES1, which suggests that NELL1 may induce 95‑D LCSC differentiation by inhibiting the expression of c‑MET‑Notch signaling. Our results suggest that NELL1 induces lung cancer stem‑like cell differentiation, which provides a new potential therapeutic target for cancer stem cells.

Jiang M, Qiu N, Xia H, et al.
Long non‑coding RNA FOXD2‑AS1/miR‑150‑5p/PFN2 axis regulates breast cancer malignancy and tumorigenesis.
Int J Oncol. 2019; 54(3):1043-1052 [PubMed] Related Publications
Breast cancer (BC) is a common cancer and leading cause of cancer‑associated mortality in women. Abnormal expression of long non‑coding RNA FOXD2 adjacent opposite strand RNA 1 (FOXD2‑AS1) was associated with the development of a number of tumors. However, whether FOXD2‑AS1 is dysregulated in BC and its underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In the present study, it was identified that FOXD2‑AS1 expression was upregulated in BC tissue, cell lines and sphere subpopulation. Additionally, the abnormal upregulation of FOXD2‑AS1 predicted poor prognosis in patients with BC. Furthermore, downregulation of FOXD2‑AS1 decreased cell proliferation, and migratory and invasive abilities in BC cells, and decreased the growth of transplanted tumors in vivo. Downregulation of FOXD2‑AS1 decreased the percentage of CD44 antigen+/signal transducer CD24- in breast cancer stem cell (BCSC) cells, and decreased the expression of numerous stem factors, including Nanog, octamer‑binding transcription factor 4 (Oct4), and sex determining region Y‑box 2 (SOX2), and inhibited the epithelial‑mesenchymal transition process. FOXD2‑AS1 was identified to be primarily located in the cytoplasm. Using bioinformatics analysis, a reporter gene assay and reverse transcription‑polymerase chain reaction assays, it was demonstrated that microRNA (miR)‑150‑5p was able to bind directly with the 3'‑untranslated region of FOXD2‑AS1 and PFN2 mRNA. miR‑150‑5p mimics decreased the cell proliferation, migration and invasion of BC cells. FOXD2‑AS1 knockdown significantly inhibited the miR‑150‑5p inhibitor‑induced increase in Nanog, Oct4 and SOX2 expression. The miR‑150‑5p inhibitor‑induced increase in N‑cadherin, and decrease in E‑cadherin and vimentin was inhibited by FOXD2‑AS1 knockdown. Profilin 2 (PFN2) expression was significantly upregulated in BC tissues. Additionally, the abnormal upregulation of PFN2 was associated with poor prognosis in patients with BC. FOXD2‑AS1 and PFN2 expression was positively correlated. Collectively, the present results demonstrated the role of the FOXD2‑AS1/miR‑150‑5p/PFN2 axis in the development of BC, and provides novel targets for the treatment of BC, and potential biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis of BC.

Domenici G, Aurrekoetxea-Rodríguez I, Simões BM, et al.
A Sox2-Sox9 signalling axis maintains human breast luminal progenitor and breast cancer stem cells.
Oncogene. 2019; 38(17):3151-3169 [PubMed] Related Publications
Increased cancer stem cell content during development of resistance to tamoxifen in breast cancer is driven by multiple signals, including Sox2-dependent activation of Wnt signalling. Here, we show that Sox2 increases and estrogen reduces the expression of the transcription factor Sox9. Gain and loss of function assays indicate that Sox9 is implicated in the maintenance of human breast luminal progenitor cells. CRISPR/Cas knockout of Sox9 reduces growth of tamoxifen-resistant breast tumours in vivo. Mechanistically, Sox9 acts downstream of Sox2 to control luminal progenitor cell content and is required for expression of the cancer stem cell marker ALDH1A3 and Wnt signalling activity. Sox9 is elevated in breast cancer patients after endocrine therapy failure. This new regulatory axis highlights the relevance of SOX family transcription factors as potential therapeutic targets in breast cancer.

Qiu X, Wang W, Li B, et al.
Targeting Ezh2 could overcome docetaxel resistance in prostate cancer cells.
BMC Cancer. 2019; 19(1):27 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Docetaxel was used to treat metastatic CRPC patients. However, Doc resistance in prostate cancer (PCa) hinders its clinical application.
OBJECTIVE: To understand the underlying mechanisms by which Doc resistance is developed and to find novel therapeutic target to cure Doc resistant PCa has clinical importance.
METHODS: We established Doc resistant cell lines and explored the role of Ezh2 in the development of Doc resistance by overexpressing its cDNA or using its inhibitor.
RESULTS: We found that Ezh2 was induced in our established Doc resistant (DocR) cells, which was attributable to the silenced expression of miR-101-3p and miR-138-5p. Blockage of Ezh2 activity by either inhibitor or miRNA mimics could overcome Doc resistance by suppressing Doc-induced cancer stem cells populations. Mechanistically, Ezh2 activity was required for the induced expression of Nanog, Sox2 and CD44 upon Doc treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: Targeting Ezh2 could overcome Doc resistance.

Lazarevic M, Milosevic M, Trisic D, et al.
Putative cancer stem cells are present in surgical margins of oral squamous cell carcinoma.
J BUON. 2018 Nov-Dec; 23(6):1686-1692 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Recent evidence suggests that small subpopulations of stem-like cells are accountable for tumour initiation, progression and metastasis. Until now, studies were focused exclusively on the characterization of these cell populations within the tumour itself, while tumour margins were neglected, although it is known that the histological and molecular status of tumour margins may play a significant role in the course of the disease. Therefore, the aims of the study were to isolate cells from oral squamous cell carcinomas and their respective margins, to characterize these cells using specific markers, to assess their self-renewal potential and determine their chemoresistance.
METHODS: Cell cultures were obtained from 12 tissue specimens (6 tumours and 6 margins). Total RNA was extracted and gene expression analysis was done by real-time PCR (RT-PCR). Flow cytometry, immunocytometry, sphere formation and MTT assays were also applied.
RESULTS: With minor differences, cells originating from both tumours and tumour margins showed the presence of stem cell markers CD133, Nanog, Sox2, CD44, and Oct4, had the capacity to form spheroids and showed chemoresistance.
CONCLUSIONS: Subpopulations of margin cells appeared to have stemness properties which might raise the question of re-evaluation of optimal surgical management.

Zheng X, Liu M, Song Y, Feng C
Long Noncoding RNA-ATB Impairs the Function of Tumor Suppressor miR-126-Mediated Signals in Endometrial Cancer for Tumor Growth and Metastasis.
Cancer Biother Radiopharm. 2019; 34(1):47-55 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: Long non-coding RNA-ATB (Lnc-ATB) have been reported to promote tumor proliferation and metastasis via regulation of tumor suppressive miRNA-related signals. Patients with endometrial cancer (EC) have advanced stage disease or metastasis have poor prognosis. We here investigated the role of Lnc-ATB in endometrial cancer.
METHODS: Endometrial cancer tissues and normal tissues (n = 35) were collected to determine the expression and clinical significance of Lnc-ATB, and bioinformatics analysis was used to predict the miRNA target. siRNA was used to estimate the function of Lnc-ATB in EC cell lines and in vivo.
RESULT: The expression of Lnc-ATB is up-regulated in tumor tissues and EC cell lines. Patients with high expressed Lnc-ATB have high FIGO stage and poor tumor differentiation. The tumor suppressor miR-126 interacted with Lnc-ATB. Down-regulated miR-126 negative correlated with FIGO stage and tumor differentiation. Knockdown of Lnc-ATB in RL95 and HEC1A cell lines increased the miR-126 level and impaired the cell vitality, induced caspase-3-related tumor apoptosis and G1/S arrest. However, abrogation of miR-126 by its inhibitors counteracted Lnc-ATB knockdown-induced tumor inhibition via regulation of miR-126 target gene PIK3R2 and Sox2-related apoptosis and cell cycle pathway. Meanwhile, Lnc-ATB knockdown also suppressed the migration and invasion and inhibited TGF-β-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype via miR-126. Knockdown of Lnc-ATB in vivo remarkably induced tumor regression via restoration of tumor suppressor miR-126, leading to deceased tumor volume, reduced expression of PCNA and PIK3R2/Sox2 signals and EMT phenotype in tumor tissues.
CONCLUSION: These data demonstrate the tumorigenic role of Lnc-ATBs in endometrial cancer via abrogation of tumor suppressor miR-126 signals.

Lu H, Ju DD, Yang GD, et al.
Targeting cancer stem cell signature gene SMOC-2 Overcomes chemoresistance and inhibits cell proliferation of endometrial carcinoma.
EBioMedicine. 2019; 40:276-289 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Endometrial cancer is one of the most common gynecological malignancies and has exhibited an increasing incidence rate in recent years. Cancer stem cells (CSCs), which are responsible for tumor growth and chemoresistance, have been confirmed in endometrial cancer. However, it is still challenging to identify endometrial cancer stem cells to then target for therapy.
METHODS: Flow cytometry was used to identify the endometrial cancer stem cells. Sphere formation assay, western blotting, qRT-PCR assay, cell viability assay, xenograft assay and immunohistochemistry staining analysis were utilized to evaluate the effect of SPARC-related modular calcium binding 2 (SMOC-2) on the cells proliferation and drug resistance. Cell viability assay, qRT-PCR assay, immunofluorescence staining, Co-IP assay and luciferase reporter gene assay were performed to explore the possible molecular mechanism by which SMOC-2 activates WNT/β-catenin pathway.
FINDINGS: We found the expression of SPARC-related modular calcium binding 2 (SMOC-2), a member of SPARC family, was higher in endometrial CSCs than that in non-CSCs. SMOC-2 was also more highly expressed in spheres than in monolayer cultures. The silencing of SMOC-2 suppressed cell sphere ability; reduced the expression of the stemness-associated genes SOX2, OCT4 and NANOG; and enhanced chemosensitivity in endometrial cancer cells. By co-culture IP assay, we demonstrated that SMOC-2 directly interacted with WNT receptors (Fzd6 and LRP6), enhanced ligand-receptor interaction with canonical WNT ligands (Wnt3a and Wnt10b), and finally, activated the WNT/β-catenin pathway in endometrial cancer. SMOC-2 expression was closely correlated with CSC markers CD133 and CD44 expression in endometrial cancer tissue.
INTERPRETATION: Taken together, we conclude that SMOC-2 might be a novel endometrial cancer stem cell signature gene and therapeutic target for endometrial cancer. FUND: National Natural Science Foundation of China, Scientific and Technological Innovation Act Program of Shanghai Science and Technology Commission, Scientific and Technological Innovation Act Program of Fengxian Science and Technology Commission, Natural Science Foundation of Shanghai.

Capatina C, Cimpean AM, Raica M, et al.
SOX 2 Expression in Human Pituitary Adenomas-Correlations With Pituitary Function.
In Vivo. 2019 Jan-Feb; 33(1):79-83 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: The aim of this study was to evaluate SOX2 expression in pituitary adenomas and its correlation to their secretory state and clinicopathological parameters.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Thirty-four patients were clinically evaluated and surgery was recommended for tumor removal. Histopathological diagnosis by hematoxylin eosin staining was followed by immunohistochemistry for pituitary hormones and SOX2 co-expression.
RESULTS: Fourteen of the 34 cases were GH-secreting adenomas, 10 were prolactinomas and 10 non-functioning pituitary adenomas. SOX2-positive expression was detected in 47.05% of total cases: 8 GH-secreting adenomas (57.14%), 6 prolactinomas (60%) and 2 non-functioning adenomas (20%). SOX2 positivity was significantly higher amongst secreting adenomas (p=0.041). SOX2-negative tumors were significantly associated with corticotrophin deficiency (p=0.047) and gonadotrophin deficiency (p=0.041). No correlation with tumor size or extrasellar extension was detected.
CONCLUSION: SOX2 is differentially expressed in pituitary adenomas and influences the secretory state or clinical behavior of pituitary adenomas.

Yadav P, Shankar BS
Radio resistance in breast cancer cells is mediated through TGF-β signalling, hybrid epithelial-mesenchymal phenotype and cancer stem cells.
Biomed Pharmacother. 2019; 111:119-130 [PubMed] Related Publications
AIMS: A major obstacle for effective cancer treatment by radiation therapy is the development of radio-resistance and identification of underlying mechanisms and activated pathways will lead to better combination therapies.
MAIN METHODS: Irradiated MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell lines were characterised following different recovery periods. Proliferation was assessed by MTT, BrdU and clonogenic assays and apoptosis by Annexin V/ propidium iodide staining and flow cytometry. Gene expression was monitored by real time PCR/ELISA/antibody labelling and migration using transwell inserts.
KEY FINDINGS: Breast cancer cell lines exposed to 6 Gy followed by recovery period for 7 days (D7-6 G) had increased ability for proliferation as well as apoptosis. D7-6 G from both cell lines had increased expression of transforming growth factor isoforms (TGF)-β1, β2 and β3, their receptors TGF-βR1 and TGF-βR2 which are known for such dual effects. The expression of downstream transcription factors Snail, Zeb-1 and HMGA2 also showed a differential pattern in D7-6 G cells with upregulation of at least two of these transcription factors. D7-6 G cells from both cell lines displayed hybrid epithelial-mesenchymal (E/M) phenotype with increased expression of E/M markers and migration. D7-6 G cells had increased expression of cancer stem cells markers Oct4, Sox2, and Nanog; aldehyde dehydrogenase expression and activity; proportion of CD44
SIGNIFICANCE: Blocking of TGF-β signalling may therefore be an effective strategy for overcoming radio resistance induced by radiation exposure.

Yao GD, Niu YY, Chen KX, et al.
SOX2 gene expression and its role in triple negative breast cancer tissues.
J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2018 Nov-Dec; 32(6):1399-1406 [PubMed] Related Publications
The aim of this work was to study the expression of SOX2 gene in triple negative breast cancer and its role. One hundred and twenty specimens of paraffin-embedded triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) tissues were collected from Harbin Medical University Cancer Hospital, Heilongjiang, China between January 2014 and March 2018. The expression of SOX2 was detected using immunohistochemistry, and the relationship between the expression of SOX2 and clinical features was analyzed. Breast cancer cell lines (normal group, SOX2 interference group, SOX2 overexpression group) were cultured

Wang YB, Sun B, Han B
Retinoic acid increases the anticancer effect of paclitaxel by inducing differentiation of cancer stem cells in melanoma.
Pharmazie. 2018; 73(12):729-732 [PubMed] Related Publications
Malignant melanoma is a highly lethal disease, and advanced stages of melanoma have proven to be resistant to many chemotherapeutic drugs including temozolomide and paclitaxel. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) have been identified and isolated in different cancers including melanoma, and have been proven playing important role in the drug resistance. Retinoic acid (RA) is a promising anticancer agent, which can induce differentiation of CSCs. The main purpose of the present study was to evaluate the possible RA-induced differentiation of melanoma CSCs and sensitization of melanoma CSCs to paclitaxel. Our results show that CSCs of human melanoma A375 cells was more tolerant to paclitaxel than other non-CSCs melanoma cells. On the contrary, RA had stronger inhibitory effect on melanoma CSCs than on non-CSCs. At the same time, RA could arrest the cell cycle of CSCs and reduce the expression of Sox-2, Oct-4 in CSCs of melanoma, thereby induced the differentiation of CSCs and increased its sensitivity to paclitaxel. With this study we concluded that RA increases the anticancer effect of paclitaxel by inducing differentiation of cancer stem cells in melanoma, and the combined application of RA and paclitaxel may be more effective in the treatment of melanoma.

Fiscon G, Conte F, Paci P
SWIM tool application to expression data of glioblastoma stem-like cell lines, corresponding primary tumors and conventional glioma cell lines.
BMC Bioinformatics. 2018; 19(Suppl 15):436 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: It is well-known that glioblastoma contains self-renewing, stem-like subpopulation with the ability to sustain tumor growth. These cells - called cancer stem-like cells - share certain phenotypic characteristics with untransformed stem cells and are resistant to many conventional cancer therapies, which might explain the limitations in curing human malignancies. Thus, the identification of genes controlling the differentiation of these stem-like cells is becoming a successful therapeutic strategy, owing to the promise of novel targets for treating malignancies.
METHODS: Recently, we developed SWIM, a software able to unveil a small pool of genes - called switch genes - critically associated with drastic changes in cell phenotype. Here, we applied SWIM to the expression profiling of glioblastoma stem-like cells and conventional glioma cell lines, in order to identify switch genes related to stem-like phenotype.
RESULTS: SWIM identifies 171 switch genes that are all down-regulated in glioblastoma stem-like cells. This list encompasses genes like CAV1, COL5A1, COL6A3, FLNB, HMMR, ITGA3, ITGA5, MET, SDC1, THBS1, and VEGFC, involved in "ECM-receptor interaction" and "focal adhesion" pathways. The inhibition of switch genes highly correlates with the activation of genes related to neural development and differentiation, such as the 4-core OLIG2, POU3F2, SALL2, SOX2, whose induction has been shown to be sufficient to reprogram differentiated glioblastoma into stem-like cells. Among switch genes, the transcription factor FOSL1 appears as the brightest star since: it is down-regulated in stem-like cells; it highly negatively correlates with the 4-core genes that are all up-regulated in stem-like cells; the promoter regions of the 4-core genes harbor a consensus binding motif for FOSL1.
CONCLUSIONS: We suggest that the inhibition of switch genes in stem-like cells could induce the deregulation of cell communication pathways, contributing to neoplastic progression and tumor invasiveness. Conversely, their activation could restore the physiological equilibrium between cell adhesion and migration, hampering the progression of cancer. Moreover, we posit FOSL1 as promising candidate to orchestrate the differentiation of cancer stem-like cells by repressing the 4-core genes' expression, which severely halts cancer growth and might affect the therapeutic outcome. We suggest FOSL1 as novel putative therapeutic and prognostic biomarker, worthy of further investigation.

Chen S, Giannakou A, Wyman S, et al.
Cancer-associated fibroblasts suppress SOX2-induced dysplasia in a lung squamous cancer coculture.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018; 115(50):E11671-E11680 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Tumorigenesis depends on intricate interactions between genetically altered tumor cells and their surrounding microenvironment. While oncogenic drivers in lung squamous carcinoma (LUSC) have been described, the role of stroma in modulating tissue architecture, particularly cell polarity, remains unclear. Here, we report the establishment of a 3D coculture system of LUSC epithelial cells with cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) and extracellular matrix that together capture key components of the tumor microenvironment (TME). Single LUSC epithelial cells develop into acinar-like structures with 0.02% efficiency, and addition of CAFs provides proper tumor-stromal interactions within an appropriate 3D architectural context. Using this model, we recapitulate key pathological changes during tumorigenesis, from hyperplasia to dysplasia and eventually invasion, in malignant LUSC spheroids that undergo phenotypic switching in response to cell intrinsic and extrinsic changes. Overexpression of SOX2 is sufficient to mediate the transition from hyperplasia to dysplasia in LUSC spheroids, while the presence of CAFs makes them invasive. Unexpectedly, CAFs suppress the activity of high SOX2 levels, restore hyperplasia, and enhance the formation of acinar-like structures. Taken together, these observations suggest that stromal factors can override cell intrinsic oncogenic changes in determining the disease phenotype, thus providing fundamental evidence for the existence of dynamic reciprocity between the nucleus and the TME of LUSC.

Zhang X, Shao J, Li X, et al.
Docetaxel promotes cell apoptosis and decreases SOX2 expression in CD133‑expressing hepatocellular carcinoma stem cells by suppressing the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway.
Oncol Rep. 2019; 41(2):1067-1074 [PubMed] Related Publications
Docetaxel is a front‑line standard‑of‑care chemotherapeutic drug for the treatment of cancers. However, the underlying function and mechanism of docetaxel in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are uncertain. Therefore, the present study aimed to determine the effects of docetaxel on cell apoptosis and SOX2 expression in cultured human HCC stem cells. After human HCC stem cells were treated with docetaxel, cell proliferation was assessed by methyl thiazolyl tetrazolium (MTT) method, the cell apoptotic rate was evaluated by flow cytometry, the expression of CD133 and sex determining region Y‑box 2 (SOX2) was determined by RT‑PCR and immunohistochemistry, and the protein levels of CD133, SOX2, phosphoinositide 3‑kinases (PI3K), AKT and phosphorylated AKT (p‑AKT) were analyzed by western blotting. The results indicated that SOX2 and CD133 were highly expressed in patients with HCC while their expression was significantly decreased after patients with HCC were treated with docetaxel. In vitro, docetaxel inhibited the proliferation while it enhanced the apoptosis of human CD133‑expressing HCC stem cells. Furthermore, lower expression of p‑AKT and SOX2 were revealed in the presence of docetaxel. Notably, docetaxel‑inhibited SOX2 expression and growth of human CD133‑expressing HCC stem cells were partially restricted following the block of the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway using the inhibitor LY294002. The present study collectively indicated that docetaxel promoted apoptosis and upregulated SOX2 expression of human HCC stem cells through the suppression of the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway.

Lu G, Li Y, Ma Y, et al.
Long noncoding RNA LINC00511 contributes to breast cancer tumourigenesis and stemness by inducing the miR-185-3p/E2F1/Nanog axis.
J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2018; 37(1):289 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Emerging evidence have illustrated the vital role of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) long intergenic non-protein coding RNA 00511 (LINC00511) on the human cancer progression and tumorigenesis. However, the role of LINC00511 in breast cancer tumourigenesis is still unknown. This research puts emphasis on the function of LINC00511 on the breast cancer tumourigenesis and stemness, and investigates the in-depth mechanism.
METHODS: The lncRNA and RNA expression were measured using RT-PCR. Protein levels were measured using western blotting analysis. CCK-8, colony formation assays and transwell assay were performed to evaluate the cell proliferation ability and invasion. Sphere-formation assay was also performed for the stemness. Bioinformatic analysis, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and luciferase reporter assays were carried to confirm the molecular binding.
RESULTS: LINC00511 was measured to be highly expressed in the breast cancer specimens and the high-expression was correlated with the poor prognosis. Functionally, the gain and loss-of-functional experiments revealed that LINC00511 promoted the proliferation, sphere-formation ability, stem factors (Oct4, Nanog, SOX2) expression and tumor growth in breast cancer cells. Mechanically, LINC00511 functioned as competing endogenous RNA (ceRNA) for miR-185-3p to positively recover E2F1 protein. Furthermore, transcription factor E2F1 bind with the promoter region of Nanog gene to promote it transcription.
CONCLUSION: In conclusion, our data concludes that LINC00511/miR-185-3p/E2F1/Nanog axis facilitates the breast cancer stemness and tumorigenesis, providing a vital insight for them.

Pelizzo G, Veschi V, Mantelli M, et al.
Microenvironment in neuroblastoma: isolation and characterization of tumor-derived mesenchymal stromal cells.
BMC Cancer. 2018; 18(1):1176 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: It has been proposed that mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) promote tumor progression by interacting with tumor cells and other stroma cells in the complex network of the tumor microenvironment. We characterized MSCs isolated and expanded from tumor tissues of pediatric patients diagnosed with neuroblastomas (NB-MSCs) to define interactions with the tumor microenvironment.
METHODS: Specimens were obtained from 7 pediatric patients diagnosed with neuroblastoma (NB). Morphology, immunophenotype, differentiation capacity, proliferative growth, expression of stemness and neural differentiation markers were evaluated. Moreover, the ability of cells to modulate the immune response, i.e. inhibition of phytohemagglutinin (PHA) activated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and natural killer (NK) cytotoxic function, was examined. Gene expression profiles, known to be related to tumor cell stemness, Wnt pathway activation, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and tumor metastasis were also evaluated. Healthy donor bone marrow-derived MSCs (BM-MSC) were employed as controls.
RESULTS: NB-MSCs presented the typical MSC morphology and phenotype. They showed a proliferative capacity superimposable to BM-MSCs. Stemness marker expression (Sox2, Nanog, Oct3/4) was comparable to BM-MSCs. NB-MSC in vitro osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation was similar to BM-MSCs, but NB-MSCs lacked adipogenic differentiation capacity. NB-MSCs reached senescence phases at a median passage of P7 (range, P5-P13). NB-MSCs exhibited greater immunosuppressive capacity on activated T lymphocytes at a 1:2 (MSC: PBMC) ratio compared with BM-MSCs (p = 0.018). NK cytotoxic activity was not influenced by co-culture, either with BM-MSCs or NB-MSCs. Flow-cytometry cell cycle analysis showed that NB-MSCs had an increased number of cells in the G0-G1 phase compared to BM-MSCs. Transcriptomic profiling results indicated that NB-MSCs were enriched with EMT genes compared to BM-MSCs.
CONCLUSIONS: We characterized the biological features, the immunomodulatory capacity and the gene expression profile of NB-MSCs. The NB-MSC gene expression profile and their functional properties suggest a potential role in promoting tumor escape, invasiveness and metastatic traits of NB cancer cells. A better understanding of the complex mechanisms underlying the interactions between NB cells and NB-derived MSCs should shed new light on potential novel therapeutic approaches.

Liu K, Xu SH, Chen Z, et al.
TRPM7 overexpression enhances the cancer stem cell-like and metastatic phenotypes of lung cancer through modulation of the Hsp90α/uPA/MMP2 signaling pathway.
BMC Cancer. 2018; 18(1):1167 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Waixenicin A, a bioactive extract of soft coral Sarcothelia edmondsoni, has been shown to be anti-neoplastic. However, its mechanisms of action remain unclear. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) and associated stemness factors are implicated in lung cancer. Here, we investigated the role of Waixenicin A on CSCs-like and metastatic lung cancer cells.
METHODS: We demonstrated and compared TRPM7 expression in the non-tumor lung tissues or bronchial epithelial 16-HBE cell line. TRPM7 was aberrantly expressed in the cancer tissues and SPCA-1, NCI-H520, SK-MES-1, A549 and 95D cell lines.
RESULTS: Increased TRPM7 expression was associated with enhanced SOX2, KLF4, and CD133, Hsp90α, uPA, and MMP2 expression in lung cancer cells. TRPM7-silencing inhibited epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), suppressed stemness markers and phenotypes, concomitantly suppressed Hsp90α/uPA/MMP2 axis. Coincidently, Waixenicin A treatment downregulated TRPM7 and oncogenic markers; Waixenicin A also attenuated the ability of lung cancer cells to form tumorspheres, in vitro. In validation, our clinicopathological analyses showed that a higher TRPM7 expression was positively correlated with the larger tumor size (p = 0.007), positive lymph node metastasis (p = 0.005) and disease grade (p = 0.003).
CONCLUSIONS: Through its ability to inhibit Hsp90α/uPA/MMP2 signaling and suppress TRPM7 expression, we showed that Waixenicin A is a potential anticancer therapeutic agent for treating malignant lung cancer.

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