JOURNAL ARTICLE

Autophagy mediates survival of pancreatic tumour-initiating cells in a hypoxic microenvironment

Vanessa Rausch, Li Liu, Anja Apel, Theresa Rettig, Jury Gladkich, Sabrina Labsch, Georgios Kallifatidis, Adam Kaczorowski, Ariane Groth, Wolfgang Gross, Martha M Gebhard, Peter Schemmer, Jens Werner, Alexei V Salnikov, Hanswalter Zentgraf, Markus W Büchler, Ingrid Herr
Journal of Pathology 2012, 227 (3): 325-35
22262369
Involvement of dysregulated autophagy in cancer growth and progression has been shown in different tumour entities, including pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA). PDA is an extremely aggressive tumour characterized by a small population of highly therapy-resistant cancer stem cells (CSCs) capable of self-renewal and migration. We examined whether autophagy might be involved in the survival of CSCs despite nutrition and oxygen deprivation typical for the hypoxic tumour microenvironment of PDA. Immunohistochemistry revealed that markers for hypoxia, CSCs and autophagy are co-expressed in patient-derived tissue of PDA. Hypoxia starvation (H/S) enhanced clonogenic survival and migration of established pancreatic cancer cells with stem-like properties (CSC(high)), while pancreatic tumour cells with fewer stem cell markers (CSC(low)) did not survive these conditions. Electron microscopy revealed more advanced autophagic vesicles in CSC(high) cells, which exhibited higher expression of autophagy-related genes under normoxic conditions and relative to CSC(low) cells, as found by RT-PCR and western blot analysis. LC3 was already fully converted to the active LC3-II form in both cell lines, as evaluated by western blot and detection of accumulated GFP-LC3 protein by fluorescence microscopy. H/S increased formation of autophagic and acid vesicles, as well as expression of autophagy-related genes, to a higher extent in CSC(high) cells. Modulation of autophagy by inhibitors and activators resensitized CSC(high) to apoptosis and diminished clonogenicity, spheroid formation, expression of CSC-related genes, migratory activity and tumourigenicity in mice. Our data suggest that enhanced autophagy levels may enable survival of CSC(high) cells under H/S. Interference with autophagy-activating or -inhibiting drugs disturbs the fine-tuned physiological balance of enhanced autophagy in CSC and switches survival signalling to suicide.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article

Discussion

You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read
22262369
×

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.

×

Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"