1. Department of Laboratory Medicine, The First Affiliated Hospital of Ningbo University, Ningbo 315010, China.
2. Central Laboratory, The First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou 325000, China.
3. Department of Colorectal and Anal Surgery, The First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou 325000, China.
4. Department of Gastroenterology, the First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou 325000, China.
# These authors contributed equally to this work.
Background: Thioredoxin 1 (Trx-1) is a small redox protein predominantly localized in the cytoplasm. Its expression is increased in several cancers, including colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the function of Trx-1 translocation to the nucleus in cancer is not clear. In this study, we investigated the role of Trx-1 nuclear translocation in development of CRC.
Methods: Expression of Trx-1 and STAT3 was analyzed by Western blot and immunofluorescence. Endogenous interaction of Trx-1, STAT3, and karyopherin α1 in CRC cells was analyzed by co-immunoprecipitation. Trx-1 and pSTAT3 nuclear staining in human CRC tissues was analyzed by immunohistochemistry. A mouse model of AOM/DSS induced colitis-associated cancer (CAC) was utilized to investigate the antitumor effect of PX-12, a Trx-1 inhibitor. A knockin mouse with the Txn1(KK81-82EE) mutation was generated via CRISPR/Cas9, and CAC was induced in knockin and wild-type mice.
Results: Nuclear translocation of Trx-1 was induced by IL-6, and inhibition of this translocation reversed IL-6-induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, invasion and metastasis. Karyopherin α1 was found to specifically mediate IL-6-induced translocation of the Trx-1-pSTAT3 complex into the nucleus. Nuclear Trx-1 expression was closely correlated with lymph node metastasis and distant metastasis in human CRC. In addition, nuclear staining of Trx-1 showed significant positive correlation with nuclear staining of pSTAT3 in human CRC tissues. PX-12, an inhibitor of Trx-1, significantly impaired the activation of STAT3 and suppressed the development of AOM/DSS-induced CAC in mice. Moreover, AOM/DSS-induced nuclear Trx-1 expression was suppressed in Txn1(KK81-82EE) mice, which inhibited STAT3 activation and cancer progression.
Conclusions: These results provide new insights into the mechanisms of STAT3 activation triggered by IL-6 and identify nuclear translocation of Trx-1 as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of CRC and CAC.
Keywords: Colorectal cancer, IL-6, nuclear translocation, STAT3, Trx-1