A subset of colorectal cancer (CRC) with a mesenchymal phenotype (CMS4) displays an aggressive disease, with an increased risk of recurrence after surgery, reduced survival, and resistance to standard treatments. It has been shown that the AXL and TGFβ signaling pathways are involved in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, migration, metastatic spread, and unresponsiveness to targeted therapies. However, the prognostic role of the combination of these biomarkers and the anti-tumor effect of AXL and TGFβ inhibition in CRC still has to be assessed. To evaluate the role of AXL and TGFβ as negative biomarker in CRC, we conducted an in-depth in silico analysis of CRC samples derived from the Gene Expression Omnibus. We found that AXL and TGFβ receptors are upregulated in CMS4 tumors and are correlated with an increased risk of recurrence after surgery in stage II/III CRC and a reduced overall survival. Moreover, we showed that AXL receptor is differently expressed in human CRC cell lines. Dual treatment with the TGFβ galunisertib and the AXL inhibitor, bemcentinib, significantly reduced colony formation and migration capabilities of tumor cells and displayed a strong anti-tumor activity in 3D spheroid cultures derived from patients with advanced CRC. Our work shows that AXL and TGFβ receptors identify a subgroup of CRC with a mesenchymal phenotype and correlate with poor prognosis. Dual inhibition of AXL and TGFβ could represent a novel therapeutic strategy for patients with this aggressive disease.

Dual inhibition of TGFβ and AXL as a novel therapy for human colorectal adenocarcinoma with mesenchymal phenotype

Martini, Giulia;Napolitano, Stefania;Corte, Carminia Della;Selvaggi, Francesco;Franco, Renato;Morgillo, Floriana;Troiani, Teresa;Ciardiello, Fortunato;Martinelli, Erika
2021

Abstract

A subset of colorectal cancer (CRC) with a mesenchymal phenotype (CMS4) displays an aggressive disease, with an increased risk of recurrence after surgery, reduced survival, and resistance to standard treatments. It has been shown that the AXL and TGFβ signaling pathways are involved in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, migration, metastatic spread, and unresponsiveness to targeted therapies. However, the prognostic role of the combination of these biomarkers and the anti-tumor effect of AXL and TGFβ inhibition in CRC still has to be assessed. To evaluate the role of AXL and TGFβ as negative biomarker in CRC, we conducted an in-depth in silico analysis of CRC samples derived from the Gene Expression Omnibus. We found that AXL and TGFβ receptors are upregulated in CMS4 tumors and are correlated with an increased risk of recurrence after surgery in stage II/III CRC and a reduced overall survival. Moreover, we showed that AXL receptor is differently expressed in human CRC cell lines. Dual treatment with the TGFβ galunisertib and the AXL inhibitor, bemcentinib, significantly reduced colony formation and migration capabilities of tumor cells and displayed a strong anti-tumor activity in 3D spheroid cultures derived from patients with advanced CRC. Our work shows that AXL and TGFβ receptors identify a subgroup of CRC with a mesenchymal phenotype and correlate with poor prognosis. Dual inhibition of AXL and TGFβ could represent a novel therapeutic strategy for patients with this aggressive disease.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11591/444310
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