Connective Tissue Growth Factor Activates Pluripotency Genes and Mesenchymal–Epithelial Transition in Head and Neck Cancer Cells

Cheng-Chi Chang, Wen-Hao Hsu, Chen-Chien Wang, Chun-Hung Chou, Mark Yen-Ping Kuo, Been-Ren Lin, Szu-Ta Chen, Shyh-Kuan Tai, Min-Liang Kuo, Muh-Hwa Yang
2013 Cancer Research  
The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a key mechanism in both embryonic development and cancer metastasis. The EMT introduces stem-like properties to cancer cells. However, during somatic cell reprogramming, mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET), the reverse process of EMT, is a crucial step toward pluripotency. Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is a multifunctional secreted protein that acts as either an oncoprotein or a tumor suppressor among different cancers. Here, we show
more » ... at in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), CTGF promotes the MET and reduces invasiveness. Moreover, we found that CTGF enhances the stem-like properties of HNSCC cells and increases the expression of multiple pluripotency genes. Mechanistic studies showed that CTGF induces c-Jun expression through avb3 integrin and that c-Jun directly activates the transcription of the pluripotency genes NANOG, SOX2, and POU5F1. Knockdown of CTGF in TW2.6 cells was shown to reduce tumor formation and attenuate E-cadherin expression in xenotransplanted tumors. In HNSCC patient samples, CTGF expression was positively correlated with the levels of CDH1, NANOG, SOX2, and POU5F1. Coexpression of CTGF and the pluripotency genes was found to be associated with a worse prognosis. These findings are valuable in elucidating the interplay between epithelial plasticity and stem-like properties during cancer progression and provide useful information for developing a novel classification system and therapeutic strategies for HNSCC. Cancer Res; 73(13); 4147-57. Ó2013 AACR.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.can-12-4085 pmid:23687336 fatcat:bia7ekdtanbzvlwsuvyevtyetm