Elimination of head and neck cancer initiating cells through targeting glucose regulated protein78 signaling

Meng Ju Wu, Chia Ing Jan, Yeou Guang Tsay, Yau Hua Yu, Chih Yang Huang, Shu Chun Lin, Chung Ji Liu, Yu Syuan Chen, Jeng Fan Lo*, Cheng Chia Yu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is a highly lethal cancer that contains cellular and functional heterogeneity. Previously, we enriched a subpopulation of highly tumorigenic head and neck cancer initiating cells (HN-CICs) from HNSCC. However, the molecular mechanisms by which to govern the characteristics of HN-CICs remain unclear. GRP78, a stress-inducible endoplasmic reticulum chaperone, has been reported to play a crucial role in the maintenance of embryonic stem cells, but the role of GRP78 in CICs has not been elucidated.Results: Initially, we recognized GRP78 as a putative candidate on mediating the stemness and tumorigenic properties of HN-CICs by differential systemic analyses. Subsequently, cells with GRP78 anchored at the plasma membrane (memGRP78+) exerted cancer stemness properties of self-renewal, differentiation and radioresistance. Of note, xenotransplantation assay indicated merely 100 memGRP78+ HNSCCs resulted in tumor growth. Moreover, knockdown of GRP78 significantly reduced the self-renewal ability, side population cells and expression of stemness genes, but inversely promoted cell differentiation and apoptosis in HN-CICs. Targeting GRP78 also lessened tumorigenicity of HN-CICs both in vitro and in vivo. Clinically, co-expression of GRP78 and Nanog predicted the worse survival prognosis of HNSCC patients by immunohistochemical analyses. Finally, depletion of GRP78 in HN-CICs induced the expression of Bax, Caspase 3, and PTEN.Conclusions: In summary, memGRP78 should be a novel surface marker for isolation of HN-CICs, and targeting GRP78 signaling might be a potential therapeutic strategy for HNSCC through eliminating HN-CICs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number283
JournalMolecular Cancer
Volume9
DOIs
StatePublished - 27 Oct 2010

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