Research Papers:

Inhibition of Fas associated phosphatase 1 (Fap1) facilitates apoptosis of colon cancer stem cells and enhances the effects of oxaliplatin

Weiqi Huang, Ling Bei and Elizabeth A. Eklund _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:25891-25902. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25401

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Weiqi Huang1, Ling Bei1,2 and Elizabeth A. Eklund1,2

1Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago IL, USA

2Jesse Brown Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, Chicago IL, USA

Correspondence to:

Elizabeth A. Eklund, email: [email protected]

Keywords: stem cell; phosphatase; Fas; apoptosis; gene transcription

Received: February 28, 2018    Accepted: April 28, 2018    Published: May 25, 2018


Fas associated phosphatase 1 (Fap1) is a ubiquitously expressed protein tyrosine phosphatase. Fap1 substrates include Fas and Gsk3β, suggesting a role in regulating cell survival. Consistent with this, increased Fap1 expression is associated with resistance to Fas or platinum induced apoptosis in some human colon cancer tumors or cell lines. In the current studies, we found that Fap1 expression was significantly greater in CD133+ colon cancer stem cells compared to CD133- tumor cells. PTPN13 promoter activity (encoding Fap1) was repressed by interferon regulatory factor 2 (irf2), and expression of Fap1 and Irf2 were inversely correlated in CD133+ or CD133- colon cancer cells. We determined that CD133+ cells were relatively resistant to Fas or oxaliplatin induced apoptosis, but this was reversed by Fap1-knockdown or a Fap1-blocking tripeptide (SLV). In a murine xenograft model of colon cancer, we found treatment with SLV peptide significantly decreased tumor growth and relative abundance of CD133+CD44+ cells; associated with increased phosphorylation of Fap1 substrates. SLV peptide also enhanced inhibitory effects of oxaliplatin on tumor growth and Fap1 substrate phosphorylation in this model. Our studies suggest that therapeutically targeting Fap1 may decrease persistence of colon cancer stem cells during treatment with platinum chemotherapy by activating Fap1 substrates. In a murine model of chronic myeloid leukemia, we previously determined that inhibition of Fap1 decreased persistence of leukemia stem cells during tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatment. Therefore, Fap1 may be a tissue agnostic target to increase apoptosis in malignant stem cells.

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