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CD44 Promotes Lung Cancer Cell Metastasis through ERK–ZEB1 Signaling

  • wang, yen-yun
  • vadhan, anupama
  • chen, ping-ho
  • lee, yen-lung
  • chao, chih-yeh
  • cheng, kuang-hung
  • chang, yu-chiuan
  • chu-sung, stephen
  • yuan, shyng-shiou f.
Publication Date
Aug 12, 2021
DOI: 10.3390/cancers13164057
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Lung cancer is a malignancy with high mortality worldwide, and metastasis occurs at a high frequency even when cancer spread is not detectable at primary operation. Cancer stemness plays an important role in malignant cancer behavior, treatment resistance, and cancer metastasis. Therefore, understanding the molecular pathogenesis behind cancer-stemness-mediated metastasis and developing effective approaches to prevent metastasis are key issues for improving cancer treatment. In this study, we investigated the role of CD44 stemness marker in lung cancer using in vitro and clinical studies. Immunohistochemical staining of lung cancer tissue specimens revealed that primary tumors with higher CD44 expression showed increased metastasis to regional lymph nodes. Flow cytometry analysis suggested that CD44 positive cells were enriched in the metastatic lymph nodes compared to the primary tumors. CD44 overexpression significantly increased migration and invasion abilities of lung cancer cells through CD44-induced ERK phosphorylation, ZEB1 upregulation, and Claudin-1 downregulation. Furthermore, ERK inhibition suppressed the migration and invasion abilities of CD44-overexpressing lung cancer cells. In summary, our in vitro and clinical results indicate that CD44 may be a potential prognostic and therapeutic marker for lung cancer patients.

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