Tumor suppressor alterations cooperate to drive aggressive mesotheliomas with enriched cancer stem cells via a p53-miR-34a-c-Met axis

Craig W Menges, Yuwaraj Kadariya, Deborah Altomare, Jacqueline Talarchek, Erin Neumann-Domer, Yue Wu, Guang-Hui Xiao, Irina M Shapiro, Vihren N Kolev, Jonathan A Pachter, Andres J Klein-Szanto, Joseph R Testa
Cancer Research 2014 February 15, 74 (4): 1261-1271
Malignant mesothelioma is a highly aggressive, asbestos-related cancer frequently marked by mutations of both NF2 and CDKN2A. We demonstrate that germline knockout of one allele of each of these genes causes accelerated onset and progression of asbestos-induced malignant mesothelioma compared with asbestos-exposed Nf2(+/-) or wild-type mice. Ascites from some Nf2(+/-);Cdkn2a(+/-) mice exhibited large tumor spheroids, and tail vein injections of malignant mesothelioma cells established from these mice, but not from Nf2(+/-) or wild-type mice, produced numerous tumors in the lung, suggesting increased metastatic potential of tumor cells from Nf2(+/-);Cdkn2a(+/-) mice. Intraperitoneal injections of malignant mesothelioma cells derived from Nf2(+/-);Cdkn2a(+/-) mice into severe combined immunodeficient mice produced tumors that penetrated the diaphragm and pleural cavity and harbored increased cancer stem cells (CSC). Malignant mesothelioma cells from Nf2(+/-);Cdkn2a(+/-) mice stained positively for CSC markers and formed CSC spheroids in vitro more efficiently than counterparts from wild-type mice. Moreover, tumor cells from Nf2(+/-);Cdkn2a(+/-) mice showed elevated c-Met expression/activation, which was partly dependent on p53-mediated regulation of miR-34a and required for tumor migration/invasiveness and maintenance of the CSC population. Collectively, these studies demonstrate in vivo that inactivation of Nf2 and Cdkn2a cooperate to drive the development of highly aggressive malignant mesotheliomas characterized by enhanced tumor spreading capability and the presence of a CSC population associated with p53/miR-34a-dependent activation of c-Met. These findings suggest that cooperativity between losses of Nf2 and Cdkn2a plays a fundamental role in driving the highly aggressive tumorigenic phenotype considered to be a hallmark of malignant mesothelioma.

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