Theranostics 2022; 12(6):2598-2612. doi:10.7150/thno.70581 This issue Cite
1. Department of Radiation Oncology, Department of Thoracic Oncology, Cancer Center and State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan 610041, China
2. Advanced Medical Research Institute and Key Laboratory for Experimental Teratology of the Ministry of Education, Cheeloo College of Medicine, Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong 250012, China
3. The Second Hospital, Cheeloo College of Medicine, Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong 250033, China
Rationale: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is characterized by its unique molecular profile, aggressive nature and lack of targeted therapy. Chemotherapy induces expression of pluripotency factors and mediates an active induction of breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs) in TNBC, which potentiates the risk of tumor recurrence and metastasis and increases patient mortality. Adenosine receptor 2B (A2BR) expression and activation of its downstream signaling pathway has been implied to promote breast cancer metastasis. This study is to investigate the role of A2BR in the regulation of chemotherapy-induced BCSC enrichment.
Methods: We generated shRNA-mediated A2BR knockdown subclones in TNBC cell lines and evaluated the effect on the BCSC phenotype by Aldefluor and mammosphere assays in vitro. We performed chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay to investigate recruitment of transcription factor FOXO3 and histone modification enzymes KDM6A and p300 to the regulatory regions of pluripotency factors, as well as levels of histone modification marks H3K27ac and H3K27me3 on these regions. We employed both xenograft model and genetically engineered, autochthonous breast cancer model to evaluate the effect of A2BR on chemotherapy-induced BCSC enrichment in vivo.
Results: We demonstrated that chemotherapy increased protein level of A2BR, which contributed to chemotherapy-induced pluripotency factor expression and BCSC enrichment in TNBC. A2BR mediated activation of p38 MAPK and nuclear translocation of chromatin remodeling factor SMARCD3, which interacted and recruited histone demethylase KDM6A and histone acetyltransferase p300 specifically to the pluripotency factor genes NANOG, SOX2 and KLF4. Recruitment of KDM6A and p300 decreased histone H3K27me3 and increases H3K27ac marks, and increased transcription factor FOXO3 binding to NANOG, SOX2 and KLF4 genes, leading to transcriptional activation of these genes and BCSC specification. Genetic or pharmacological inhibition of A2BR blocked chemotherapy-mediated epigenetic activation of pluripotency factor genes and BCSC enrichment in vitro and in vivo, and delayed tumor recurrence after chemotherapy was discontinued.
Conclusion: Chemotherapy-induced A2BR expression mediates epigenetic activation of pluripotency factors and promotes breast cancer stemness. Targeting A2BR in combination with chemotherapy may block BCSC enrichment and improve outcome in TNBC.
Keywords: chemotherapy, adenosine receptor, breast cancer stem cell, pluripotency factors, epigenetic regulation