Colon cancer cells escape 5FU chemotherapy-induced cell death by entering stemness and quiescence associated with the c-Yes/YAP axis

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Abstract

Purpose: Metastasis and drug resistance are the major limitations in the survival and management of patients with cancer. This study aimed to identify the mechanisms underlying HT29 colon cancer cell chemoresistance acquired after sequential exposure to 5-fluorouracil (5FU), a classical anticancer drug for treatment of epithelial solid tumors. We examined its clinical relevance in a cohort of patients with colon cancer with liver metastases after 5FU-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy and surgery. Results: We show that a clonal 5F31 cell population, resistant to 1 mmol/L 5FU, express a typical cancer stem cell-like phenotype and enter into a reversible quiescent G0 state upon reexposure to higher 5FU concentrations. These quiescent cells overexpressed the tyrosine kinase c-Yes that became activated and membrane-associated upon 5FU exposure. This enhanced signaling pathway induced the dissociation of the Yes/YAP (Yes-associated protein) molecular complex and depleted nuclear YAP levels. Consistently, YES1 silencing decreased nuclear YAP accumulation and induced cellular quiescence in 5F31 cells cultured in 5FUfreemedium. Importantly, YES1 and YAP transcript levels were higher in livermetastases of patients with colon cancer after 5FU-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Moreover, the YES1 and YAP transcript levels positively correlated with colon cancer relapse and shorter patient survival (P < 0.05 and P < 0.025, respectively). Conclusions: We identified c-Yes and YAP as potential molecular targets to eradicate quiescent cancer cells and dormant micrometastases during 5FU chemotherapy and resistance and as predictive survival markers for colon cancer. © 2014 American Association for Cancer Research.

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Touil, Y., Igoudjil, W., Corvaisier, M., Dessein, A. F., Vandomme, J., Monte, D., … Huet, G. (2014). Colon cancer cells escape 5FU chemotherapy-induced cell death by entering stemness and quiescence associated with the c-Yes/YAP axis. Clinical Cancer Research, 20(4), 837–846. https://doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-13-1854

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