Theranostics 2019; 9(25):7628-7647. doi:10.7150/thno.36277 This issue

Research Paper

A self-enforcing HOXA11/Stat3 feedback loop promotes stemness properties and peritoneal metastasis in gastric cancer cells

Chao Wang1#, Min Shi1#, Jun Ji2, Qu Cai2, Jinling Jiang1, Huan Zhang3, Zhenggang Zhu1,2, Jun Zhang1,✉

1. Department of Oncology, Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, No. 197 Ruijin er Road, Shanghai, 200025, China.
2. Shanghai Institute of Digestive Surgery, Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, No. 197 Ruijin er Road, Shanghai, 200025, China.
3. Department of Radiology, Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, No. 197 Ruijin er Road, Shanghai, 200025, China.
# These authors contributed equally to this manuscript and should be considered co-first authors.

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Citation:
Wang C, Shi M, Ji J, Cai Q, Jiang J, Zhang H, Zhu Z, Zhang J. A self-enforcing HOXA11/Stat3 feedback loop promotes stemness properties and peritoneal metastasis in gastric cancer cells. Theranostics 2019; 9(25):7628-7647. doi:10.7150/thno.36277. Available from https://www.thno.org/v09p7628.htm

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Abstract

Graphic abstract

Rationale: Peritoneal metastasis is one of the most common and life-threatening metastases in gastric cancer patients. The disseminated gastric cancer cells forming peritoneal metastasis exhibit a variety of characteristics that contrast with those of adjacent epithelial cell of gastric mucosa and even primary gastric cancer cells. We hypothesized that the gene expression profiles of peritoneal foci could reveal the identities of genes that might function as metastatic activator.

Methods: In this study, we show, using in vitro, in vivo, in silico and gastric cancer tissues studies in humans and mice, that Homoebox A11 (HOXA11) potently promote peritoneal metastasis of gastric cancer cells.

Results: Its mechanism of action involves alternation of cancer stemness and subsequently enhancement of the adhesion, migration and invasion and anti-apoptosis. This is achieved, mainly, through formation of a positive feedback loop between HOXA11 and Stat3, which is involved in the stimulation of Stat3 signaling pathway.

Conclusions: These observations uncover a novel peritoneal metastatic activator and demonstrate the association between HOXA11, Stat3 and cancer stemness of gastric cancer cells, thereby revealing a previously undescribed mechanism of peritoneal metastasis.

Keywords: peritoneal metastasis, gastric cancer, HOXA11, Stat3, BBI608