Research Papers:

Inhibition of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress sensors sensitizes cancer stem-like cells to ER stress-mediated apoptosis

Asaha Fujimoto _, Kei Kawana, Ayumi Taguchi, Katsuyuki Adachi, Masakazu Sato, Hiroe Nakamura, Juri Ogishima, Mitsuyo Yoshida, Tomoko Inoue, Haruka Nishida, Kensuke Tomio, Aki Yamashita, Yoko Matsumoto, Takahide Arimoto, Osamu Wada-Hiraike, Katsutoshi Oda, Takeshi Nagamatsu, Yutaka Osuga and Tomoyuki Fujii

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:51854-51864. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.10126

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Asaha Fujimoto1, Kei Kawana1, Ayumi Taguchi1, Katsuyuki Adachi1, Masakazu Sato1, Hiroe Nakamura1, Juri Ogishima1, Mitsuyo Yoshida1, Tomoko Inoue1, Haruka Nishida1, Kensuke Tomio1, Aki Yamashita1, Yoko Matsumoto1, Takahide Arimoto1, Osamu Wada-Hiraike1, Katsutoshi Oda1, Takeshi Nagamatsu1, Yutaka Osuga1, Tomoyuki Fujii1

1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-8655, Japan

Correspondence to:

Kei Kawana, email: [email protected]

Keywords: cancer stem-like cell, sphere forming cell, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, cisplatin, tunicamycin

Received: March 13, 2016    Accepted: May 23, 2016    Published: June 17, 2016


Although cancer stem cells (CSC) have been implicated in the development of resistance to anti-cancer therapy including chemotherapy, the mechanisms underlying chemo-resistance by CSC have not yet been elucidated. We herein isolated sphere-forming (cancer stem-like) cells from the cervical cancer cell line, SiHa, and examined the unfolded protein reaction (UPR) to chemotherapeutic-induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. We revealed that tunicamycin-induced ER stress-mediated apoptosis occurred in monolayer, but not sphere-forming cells. Biochemical assays demonstrated that sphere-forming cells were shifted to pro-survival signaling through the inactivation of IRE1 (XBP-1 splicing) and activation of PERK (elF2α phosphorylation) branches under tunicamycin-induced ER stress conditions. The proportion of apoptotic cells among sphere-forming cells was markedly increased by the tunicamycin+PERK inhibitor (PERKi) treatment, indicating that PERKi sensitized sphere-forming cells to tunicamycin-induced apoptosis. Cisplatin is also known to induce ER stress-mediated apoptosis. A low concentration of cisplatin failed to shift sphere-forming cells to apoptosis, although IRE1 branch, but not PERK, was activated. ER stress-mediated apoptosis occurred in sphere-forming cells by the cisplatin+IRE1α inhibitor (IRE1i) treatment. IRE1i, synergistic with cisplatin, up-regulated elF2α phosphorylation, and this was followed by the induction of CHOP in sphere-forming cells. The results of the present study demonstrated that the inhibition of ER stress sensors, combined with ER stress-inducible chemotherapy, shifted cancer stem-like cells to ER stress-mediated apoptosis.

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