Research Papers:

The Netrin-4/ Neogenin-1 axis promotes neuroblastoma cell survival and migration

Andrea A. Villanueva _, Paulina Falcón, Natalie Espinoza, Luis Solano R., Luis A. Milla, Esther Hernandez-SanMiguel, Vicente A. Torres, Pilar Sanchez-Gomez and Verónica Palma

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:9767-9782. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.14213

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Andrea A. Villanueva1, Paulina Falcón1, Natalie Espinoza1, Luis Solano R.1, Luis A. Milla1,4, Esther Hernandez-SanMiguel2, Vicente A. Torres3, Pilar Sanchez-Gomez2, Verónica Palma1

1Laboratory of Stem Cells and Developmental Biology, Faculty of Sciences, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile

2Neurooncology Unit, Chronic Disease Program, ISCIII, Madrid, Spain

3Institute for Research in Dental Sciences and Advanced Center for Chronic Diseases (ACCDiS), Faculty of Dentistry, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile

4Current address: School of Medicine, Universidad de Santiago, Santiago, Chile

Correspondence to:

Verónica Palma, email: [email protected]

Keywords: Neogenin-1, Netrin-4, cell migration, survival, metastasis

Received: March 28, 2016     Accepted: December 05, 2016     Published: December 25, 2016


Neogenin-1 (NEO1) is a transmembrane receptor involved in axonal guidance, angiogenesis, neuronal cell migration and cell death, during both embryonic development and adult homeostasis. It has been described as a dependence receptor, because it promotes cell death in the absence of its ligands (Netrin and Repulsive Guidance Molecule (RGM) families) and cell survival when they are present. Although NEO1 and its ligands are involved in tumor progression, their precise role in tumor cell survival and migration remain unclear. Public databases contain extensive information regarding the expression of NEO1 and its ligands Netrin-1 (NTN1) and Netrin-4 (NTN4) in primary neuroblastoma (NB) tumors. Analysis of this data revealed that patients with high expression levels of both NEO1 and NTN4 have a poor survival rate. Accordingly, our analyses in NB cell lines with different genetic backgrounds revealed that knocking-down NEO1 reduces cell migration, whereas silencing of endogenous NTN4 induced cell death. Conversely, overexpression of NEO1 resulted in higher cell migration in the presence of NTN4, and increased apoptosis in the absence of ligand. Increased apoptosis was prevented when utilizing physiological concentrations of exogenous Netrin-4. Likewise, cell death induced after NTN4 knock-down was rescued when NEO1 was transiently silenced, thus revealing an important role for NEO1 in NB cell survival. In vivo analysis, using the chicken embryo chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) model, showed that NEO1 and endogenous NTN4 are involved in tumor extravasation and metastasis. Our data collectively demonstrate that endogenous NTN4/NEO1 maintain NB growth via both pro-survival and pro-migratory molecular signaling.

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