NFATC2 is a novel therapeutic target for colorectal cancer stem cells.
Lang Tingyuan,Ding Xiaojuan,Kong Liangsheng,Zhou Xiaoyan,Zhang Zhiqi,Ju Huangxian,Ding Shijia
OncoTargets and therapy
Background:Colorectal cancer stem cells (CRC-SCs) contribute to the initiation and progression of colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the underlying mechanisms for the propagation of CRC-SCs have remained elusive. Purpose:The objective of this study was to study the role of NFATC2 in maintenance of the stemness in CRC-SCs. Method:The expression levels of mRNA and protein were determined by qRT-PCR and western-blot, respectively. CRC-SCs were isolated by spheroid formation assay and flowcytometry. The sphere-forming and self-renewal abilities of CRC-SCs were determined by spheroid formation assay. The tumorigenicity of CRC-SCs was determined by cell-derived xenograft model. Gene manipulation was performed by lentivirus-mediated delivery system. Results:We first found that NFATC2 is upregulated in primary CRC-SCs. Overexpression of NFATC2 promotes self-renewal and the expression of stem cell markers of CRC-SCs. Conversely, knockdown of NFATC2 attenuates stem cell-like properties of CRC-SCs. Mechanistic analysis indicated that NFATC2 upregulates the expression of AJUBA, downregulates the phosphorylation level of YAP, and therefore activates the transcriptional activities of YAP and promotes the stemness of CRC-SCs. Conclusion:Our findings demonstrate NFATC2 as an oncogene that can promote the stemness of CRC-SCs. This work suggests a novel therapeutic strategy against CRC caused by aberrant expression of NFATC2.