3 years ago

The ILK-MMP9-MRTF axis is crucial for EndMT differentiation of endothelial cells in a tumor microenvironment

The ILK-MMP9-MRTF axis is crucial for EndMT differentiation of endothelial cells in a tumor microenvironment
Increasing evidence indicates that the tumor microenvironment is a critical factor supporting cancer progression, chemoresistance and metastasis. Recently, cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) have been recognized as a crucial tumor stromal component promoting cancer growth and invasiveness via modulation of the extracellular matrix (ECM) structure, tumor metabolism and immune reprogramming. One of the main sources of CAFs are endothelial cells undergoing the endothelial-mesenchymal transition (EndMT). EndMT is mainly promoted by the Transforming Growth Factor-β (TGF-β) family secreted by tumor cells, though the role of particular members in EndMT regulation remains poorly understood. Our findings demonstrate that TGF-β2 induces mesenchymal transdifferentiation of human microvascular endothelial cells (HMEC-1 cells) to CAF-like cells in association with elongated cell morphology, modulation of stress fiber organization, higher α-SMA protein levels and activation of RhoA and Rac-1 pathways. Such regulation is similar to that observed in cells maintained using conditioned medium from invasive colorectal cancer cell line culture. Furthermore, TGF-β2 stimulation resulted in myocardin-related transcription factor (MRTF) activation and upregulation. Our results demonstrate for the first time that such interaction is sufficient for integrin-linked kinase (ILK) overexpression. ILK upregulation also enhanced MRTF activation via RhoA and Rac-1-MMP9 via inside-out integrin activation. Herein, we propose a new ILK-MMP9-MRTF axis that appears to be critical for EndMT differentiation of endothelial to CAF-like cells. Thus, it might be an attractive target for cancer treatment.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0167488917302331

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